Eagles squeeze by Cardinals, 3-2

Becker notches 2 goals to pace Fairmont Area in home-opener

DOUBLE-TEAM DEFENSE — Fairmont Area defenders Mackenzie Householder (middle) and Macy Militello (right) knock the puck away from Windom Area center Anna Volk (2) during Big South Conference hockey action Tuesday night at Martin County Area in Fairmont. Cardinals goaltender Emily O’Connor (back right) watches the action. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — While Emily O’Connor was on one end of the ice protecting her home goal, Emily Steen was looking to steer away goals from hers.

Although O’Connor had 35 saves to Steen’s 30, the latter made one last save at the buzzer as the Windom Area Eagles beat the Fairmont Area Cardinals, 3-2, on Tuesday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.

“She’s really been stepping up big for us this year,” Cardinals head coach Ashley Olson said about O’Connor. “She realizes what we have on the ice and knows that she needs to be a solid back in the net. She has been doing that all three games so far.”

The Eagles attempted nine shots on goal before finally breaking through. Senior center Molly Boyum stole the puck and swished it past O’Connor for the first score of the game with 5:30 remaining in the opening frame.

The Eagles carried the 1-0 lead over halfway through the second period until Joni Becker evened the score. The sophomore forward glided along the side board and beat Steen in a one-on-one situation at the 6:49 juncture.

The Cardinals outshot the Eagles, 12-7, during the period while keeping the visitors from scoring.

“We definitely came out flat in the first period and we just told them that we need to be the first to have possession in that second period and drive in a shot, hopefully,” Olson said. “A goal changed the momentum that period.”

In an exchange of momentum, the Eagles regained their lead with two goals in seven minutes.

Windom Area senior defender Jolyssa Higley followed up her blocked shot with another try, this time successfully knocking the puck in with 13:39 to go in the game. Junior center Anna Volk made a 3-1 game after coming from behind the net and angling in a goal at the 6:43 mark.

With time winding down, eigth-grade defender Mackenzie Householder and junior forward Anna Nordquist all attempted to narrow the Cardinals’ deficit. Becker joined Householder and Nordquist around the net and rebounded Nordquist’s attempt to get her second goal of the night with 1:02 remaining.

“She’s (Becker) a scrappy player. She gets down in front of the net and digs deep when we need her,” Olson said.

The Cardinals made one last attempt before the end of the game, but the Eagles held on to escape with the narrow victory.

“Definitely, our legs aren’t there,” Olson said. “We need to continue to work on our conditioning to be able to keep up with teams that have more skaters than we do. That’s just an area where we’ll keep working with in practice.”

Fairmont Area (0-3) plays at Luverne on Tuesday.

FA 0-1-1–2

WA 1-0-2–3

SCORING PLAYS

1st Period

WA — Molly Boyum (unassisted), 5:30.

2nd Period

FA — Joni Becker (unassisted), 6:49.

3rd Period

WA — Jolyssa Higley (unassisted), 13:39.

WA — Anna Volk (unassisted), 6:43.

FA — Becker (Anna Nordquist), 1:02.

Shots on goal: Windom Area 15-7-16–38; Fairmont Area 7-12-13–32.

Saves: Emily O’Connor (FA) 14-7-14–35; Emily Steen (WA) 7-11-12–30.

Penalties: Windom Area 4 for 8 minutes; Fairmont Area 3 for 6 minutes.

Power-play chances: Fairmont Area 0-for-4; Windom Area 0-for-3.

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