Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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Two teams headed into Prairie Island Arena Tuesday winless in Missota Conference play. Red Wing was yet to win a single game and the Sabers boasted just four wins on the season. The Wingers were hungry to get their first taste of victory and it showed. Red Wing established a 3-goal lead by the end of the first period and finally put forth a solid third period in defeating Shakopee 5-1. "It was a must-win for us with the situation we're in," Wingers' senior captain Taylor Hanson said. "We came out and showed it. It was a pretty dominating performance.
Red Wing just wanted to get on the ice Saturday and forget about losing to New Prague earlier in the week. The third-ranked (1A) Wingers were in a little rut since the holiday break and wanted badly to get out of it. "I was excited to see what we'd do today," Red Wing head coach Scott Haley said. "We've got to find things to play for. ...
Northfield cut the deficit to nine points 3 minutes, 4 seconds into the second half and looked to finally gain some momentum Friday against Red Wing. The Wingers had other plans. The Raiders scored just five points in the next eight minutes as Red Wing established a 54-28 lead and ran away with a 69-39 blowout victory at home. "We just kind of let them back in," Wingers' senior guard Luke Bryant said. "If you let them stay in the game they're going to take advantage of it.
Everything fell apart for Red Wing with 10 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the third period at home. The Wingers held a 3-1 lead before that point and a 32-22 shot advantage. But Sarah Larson's power-play goal gave New Prague hope and plenty of momentum. The sixth-ranked (1A) Trojans kept the pressure on and added two more unanswered goals in the final four minutes of regulation to hand second-ranked (1A) Red Wing a 4-3 loss at Prairie Island Arena, its first Missota Conference defeat of the season. "Tonight, the better team won," said Wingers head coach Scott Haley.
CANNON FALLS - Cannon Falls keeps staying with the top teams in Class 2A. The Bombers were within 10 points of 10th-ranked Maple River in the second game of the season, and nine points away from second-ranked St. Peter. Cannon Falls held leads at halftime in both of those losses, and on Saturday, the Bombers were leading ninth-ranked Rochester Lourdes again at the break. Now, Cannon Falls needs to work on holding those leads. The Eagles used a game-high 27 points from Mark Pagel -- 16 in the second half -- to hand the Bombers a 58-53 loss.
The shots were falling all night for Farmington, and Red Wing kept weathering the storm. The Wingers led 54-47 with 6 minutes, 37 seconds left in the second half before the Tigers broke through with a 13-2 run to take control at the 1:59 mark. "We didn't rebound and I thought we played a little scared," Red Wing head coach Doug Toivonen said of letting Farmington back in the game.
CANNON FALLS - Cannon Falls' defense was suffocating Tuesday night in a Hiawatha Valley Blue division matchup with Pine Island. The Bombers held the Panthers to less than 40 percent shooting, forcing 15 turnovers and keeping Pine Island's offense out of sorts the entire night. For its efforts, Cannon Falls came away with a 65-46 victory. "That's a pace of play we don't mind playing," Cannon Falls head coach Josh Davisson said of a defensive game.
CANNON FALLS - When you're in full rebuilding mode, finding the little victories is necessary. For Cannon Falls, Tuesday's game against Pine Island held few highlights, but Bombers' coach Eric Mace knows he can't focus on the final score. "We need to find those small wins," he said. "I brought back one girl with any varsity experience out of 12. ... Any night in our conference is going to be tough. Nothing's easy." The Panthers provided Cannon Falls with plenty of growing pains Tuesday night and came away with a 62-20 victory.
Kyle Blakeslee didn't know how she would fare when beginning her cross-country career at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D. She was a standout runner for Cannon Falls High School, but she wasn't very invested until senior year. Now a senior, with two All-American honors and a national title with the Vikings, Blakeslee left quite an impact of the Augustana program. "I guess I didn't really have any expectations. I didn't really know how I was going to be on the team. How (head coach Tracy Hellman's) training was going to affect me.
Minnesota State University, Mankato was the first team to recruit Red Wing's Nicole Schammel, who started playing varsity girls hockey for the Wingers as a seventh-grader. The Mavericks approach paid off Sunday as head women's hockey coach Eric Means received a verbal commitment from Schammel, the state's leading scorer. "From the beginning, coach Means has really recruited me," Schammel, a junior at Red Wing, said.