NEW ULM - The New Ulm Eagles girls hockey team has had more than a week of rest and relaxation, and the rust definitely showed in the first period of Tuesday night's Section 3A semifinal clash against the Fairmont Area Cardinals.
The Eagles' offense was not having any problems scoring goals, but the defense was having a hard time stopping them. In the end though, the Eagles skated to a 14-4 playoff win over a much-improved Fairmont Area team.
Fairmont Area ended its season with a 10-11-1 record.
ICY INTERFERENCE — New Ulm’s Morgan Schaefer (5) tries to prevent Fairmont Area’s Brooke Lemon from driving toward the net during Section 3AA semifinal hockey playoff action Tuesday night in New Ulm. (Photo Courtesy of: Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal)
New Ulm (17-7) advances to face Luverne for the Section 3A championship at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Redwood Falls. Luverne advanced via a 6-1 semifinal win over Marshall.
"The forecheck was very strong and we were very aggressive around the puck," said Fairmont Area head coach Scott Kuhl. "We attacked their net and that's basically what was working for us tonight."
Brittany Denn led the Eagles with five goals and two assists. Erika Ries finished with three goals for New Ulm.
Logyn Cone finished with three goals for the Cardinals.
Julia Schaefer had 10 saves for New Ulm and Sadie Sanderfeld stopped 24 shots for the Cardinals. Emily O'Connor had 12 saves in the third period for Fairmont Area.
While the Eagles have been off for more than a week, the offense looked fine in the first period as they got two goals from Denn and one each from Ries and Ali Beltz.
Cone scored two goals and Taylor Nuss added one for the Cardinals in the first period.
"We had lots of energy in the locker room today, lots of enthusiasm," Denn said. "Maybe some nerves got to us. Our offensive zone was phenomenal all game for us. Our defensive zone in the first period was just a little off, but we came out second period and put it together."
New Ulm head coach Kristin Faber said the Eagles were a little surprised after the first period.
"We came out and we were a little shocked I think," Faber said. "I went in and said that it doesn't matter how many goals we score tonight if we can t stop them defensively. But we came out flying in the second and third periods, and we were a lot more fun to watch in the second and third periods."
Denn couldn't have been more right about that. After a shaky start defensively which saw the Eagles holding a one-goal advantage, New Ulm scored six times in the second period to go up 10-3, meaning the third period could be played with running time.
"We knew coming out of the first period that we didn't come out like we needed to," Denn said. "We were only winning by one and we knew that we had to start putting it away."
New Ulm scored four more goals in the third period and Cone scored her third goal to complete her hat trick for Fairmont Area.
The Cardinals had a good season and return everyone on the roster next season. For Kuhl and his team, the future looks bright.
"It looks pretty good, they are learning to believe in themselves," Kuhl said. "Once they come together, they'll be something to be reckoned with here in Section 3."
As for New Ulm, the Eagles know they can't let Luverne get off to a fast start on Thursday.
"I think it's going to come down to [us] being ready to play," Faber said. "We can't take 17 minutes out of the game and expect to win."
New Ulm 4-6-4-14
Fairmont 3-0-1- 4
NU - B. Denn (Ries) 2:18.
FA - Taylor Nuss (Lauren Carlson) 2:44.
NU - Beltz (B. Denn) 7:12.
FA - Logyn Cone (Jalyssa Wilson) 10:47.
NU - B. Denn (unassisted) 11:14.
NU - Ries (unassisted) 13:44.
FA - Cone (Wilson, Kelsy Junkermeier) 14:52.
NU - B. Denn (Beltz) 1:42.
NU - B. Denn (Beltz, K. Denn) 4:19.
NU - Ries (Schugel, Beltz) 6:30.
NU - Weiss (unassisted) 8:34.
NU - K. Denn (Schaefer, McMullen) 12:46.
NU - Schugel (B. Denn, Ries) 13:58.
NU - Ries (unassisted) 0:34.
NU - Reed (unassisted) 1:30.
NU - Weiss (Schugel, Reed) 8:10.
FA - Cone (unassisted) 15:10.
NU - B. Denn (Guggisberg) 16:40.
Saves: New Ulm (Schaefer) 10. Fairmont (Sadie Sanderfeld) 24; (Emily O'Connor) 12.
Mankato East/Loyola 5, Fairmont Area 1 - The Cougars took a 3-0 lead after the second period and never looked back, cruising by the Cardinals 5-1 during nonconference boys hockey action on Tuesday in Mankato.
Jalmari Kattilakoski scored three points to top the Cougars offensively, including getting an assist on Brad Johnson's opening goal of the game with 1:15 left in the first.
Judd Schulz, who also recorded an assist on the Johnson goal, helped the Cougars extend their lead in the second.
Austin Eesley and Sean Allan combined for a goal two minutes into the second, before Schulz and Kattilakoski helped Jake Peller give the Cougars a 3-0 lead with five minutes before intermission.
Less than eight minutes into the third, the Cardinals broke the shutout with a goal off the stick of Trason Arens, with an assist to Matt Lytle.
Unfortunately for Fairmont Area, the Cougars rallied for two goals in the final eight mintues to ice the win.
Eesley scored his second of the night, with assists from Logan Lebert and Neil Nienaber, before Kattilakoski netted a goal with helpers from Schulz and Landon Lundberg.
The Cougars fired 42 shots on net, while East/Loyola goaltender Will Behsman blocked 22 shots to hold on to the win.
Cardinal goaltender Colton Cunning recorded 37 saves, while the Fairmont Area offense generated 23 shots on goal.
Fairmont Area (4-16, 0-4 SCC) travels to play New Ulm in a 7 p.m. South Central Conference game on Thursday in New Ulm.
Mankato East/Loyola (7-14) travels to Albert Lea on Thursday for a 7:30 p.m. game.
Fairmont Area 0-0-1-1
Mankato East 1-2-2-5
ME - Brad Johnson (Jalmari Kattilakoski, Judd Schulz), 15:45.
ME - Austin Eesley (Sean Allan), 2:00.
ME - Jake Peller (Judd Schulz, Jalmari Kattilakoski), 12:00.
FA - Trason Arens (Matt Lytle), 7:49.
ME - Austin Eesley (Logan Lebert, Neil Nienaber), 9:20.
ME - Jalmari Kattilakoski (Judd Schulz, Landon Lundberg), 10:48.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 7-7-9-23; Mankato East 7-17-18-42.
Saves: Colton Cunning (FA) 6-15-16- 37; Will Behsman (ME) 7-7-8-22.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 2 for 4 minutes; Mankato East 1 for 2 minutes.