Girls Hockey: Red Wing hangs on, handles NorthfieldWingers close out Missota play in style with a 6-3 win over No. 14 Northfield on Thursday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
Thursday’s Missota Conference matchup between Red Wing and Northfield had the atmosphere of a playoff game.
The third-ranked (1A) Wingers came into the game looking to solidify its claim as the No. 1 seed in the Section 1A tournament, while the 14th-ranked Raiders looked to avenge a 7-4 loss to Red Wing back on Jan. 3 and extend the team’s six-game win streak.
“It was intense,” Red Wing head girls hockey coach Scott Haley said. “The thing that’s kind of crazy is when we play these teams; their kids always seem to play their best game, their hardest game, against us.”
Through two periods, Northfield stayed within striking distance of Red Wing, but the Wingers were able to secure their 11th win in 12 games, knocking off the Raiders 6-3 at Prairie Island Arena.
“It was definitely a playoff-like atmosphere tonight,” said Red Wing forward Nicole Schammel, who is at 100 points this season after four goals and two assists on Thursday. “They’re a section opponent and that was a very important win to get. It was a little bit of a statement win.”
Schammel netted a pair of first-period goals, but the Wingers (22-2, 7-1 Missota) were hardly on cruise control in the first 17 minutes with the team having two 5-on-3 penalty kills to deal with. But thanks to strong play at the net by sophomore goaltender Ashley Corcoran, plus a key diving stop by freshman defenseman Caitie Turcotte, Red Wing kept Northfield off the board.
“We kind of kept trucking after those (5-on-3 penalties),” said senior defenseman Paige Haley. “You just got to remain positive and our girls did. We are a very positive and optimistic team. For us to have two 5-on-3s and hold them without a goal was a big thing.”
Schammel added, “Someone like Caitie diving through the crease to save a goal is real important. It got the bench going and was really exciting.”
Two minutes, 27 seconds into the second period, Emily Stegora popped in her 25th goal of the season, putting a backhand past Raiders’ goalie Lizzy Shellum for the 3-0 advantage.
The three-goal cushion proved to be vital as Northfield’s Aleisha Bielenberg and Maggie Cloud each scored a goal in a three-minute span midway through the second to make it a one-goal game.
“Northfield’s a pretty deep club and it’s hard to match up lines with them,” Scott Haley said. “It was a good test for us.”
After a pair of grueling penalty kills in the first period, the Wingers got their own shot at a 5-on-3 power-play after a pair of Raiders were sent to the penalty box in the waning minutes of the second period. Thirty seconds into the third, Kayla Oberding put Red Wing up 4-2, sniping a goal from the side off passes from Stegora and Schammel.
“It might have been the difference of the game that we scored on our 5-on-3 and they didn’t,” Scott Haley said. “Our kill looked really good tonight and the power-play did adequate.”
Northfield (14-9, 3-5 Missota) continued to put a scare into Red Wing as Annie Pumper cut the gap to one with a goal at 6:40. In the final few minutes of the game, it was a mad dash for the Raiders.
“Things were getting pretty tense in the last three minutes,” Paige Haley said. “You could tell they were ramping it up since they were just down by one.”
With Northfield pulling its goalie to get the extra attacker on, Schammel buried an empty-net goal with 44.7 seconds remaining for the 5-3 advantage. Ten seconds later, Schammel found the back of the net again, cementing the victory.
“It was just a real high-tempo game, and I think we really capitalized on our opportunities and took advantage of them,” Schammel said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Red Wing closes out the regular season Saturday against Simley, and will find out its playoff destiny when section seeding is announced Sunday.