Becker helps Cardinals collar Bulldogs

ON THE DOORSTEP — Fairmont Area’s Joni Becker (4) fires the puck at Minnesota River goaltender Madison Kisor during Big South Conference hockey action Thursday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. Minnesota River’s Ella Boomgaarden (18) and Sophia Wilson (12) watch the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Joni Becker’s natural hat trick led the Fairmont Area Cardinals.

Becker’s three-goal performance helped the Cardinals beat the Minnesota River Bulldogs 5-4 in a Big South Conference girls hockey clash Thursday night at Martin County Arena.

Fairmont Area entered the second period down 2-1, but Becker tied it when she scored her first goal of the season with 11:45 left in the middle segment. The goal was Fairmont Area’s second on a power-play opportunity and came off a deflected save from another shot on goal by Becker.

Becker scored her second with 3:31 left in the period, again on a power play. This time, Alexis Newville hit the puck through the air toward the goal, with Becker near the left post. Becker knocked the puck down with her glove toward the right side of the net and flipped it into the net just past the right pipe.

Becker’s final goal came off a double assist from Mackenzie Householder and Jonissa Neitzel. Neitzel passed to Householder, who took the puck around the back of the net from right to left, then passed to Becker on the left side of the net, who flicked it into the right side of the goal once again.

Fairmont Area head coach Ashley Olson said Becker built confidence in her first goal that led to her next two.

“I believe that was the first varsity hat trick for her and I think just scoring her first goal of the season built some momentum into a second and a third,” Olson said. “Her and Householder, that was the first time they played on the same line together and they really moved the puck well and I think really built some confidence for both of them.”

Fairmont Area’s first three goals came on power-play chances. Olson said the team focused on slowing down to build scoring looks.

“They really focused on moving the puck on the power play,” Olson said. “They did a good job slowing down to create opportunities.”

The Bulldogs’ Keely Olness scored the first goal of the game off an assist from Whitney Weick at the 4:15 mark of the first period.

Fairmont Area’s Brooklyn Meyer answered quickly with a power-play goal off a double assist from Anna Nordquist and Tegan Roskop with 10:54 left in the first.

After their first goal, the Bulldogs went eight minutes without a shot on goal, but Minnesota River’s Nicole McCabe scored with 2:24 remaining off a doule assist from Elle Seaver and Olness to end the drought.

Becker was the lone scorer in the second period, giving Fairmont Area a 4-2 lead entering the final segment.

The Bulldogs came out of the break aggressive, getting five shots on goal in the first minute of action in the third period, but Cardinal goalie Hadley Artz saved all five on the way to a 17-save period and 30-save day.

McCabe was able to start the third-period scoring and bring Minnesota River within a goal when she turned an assist from Anna Pavlo into a goal with 13:16 left in the game.

Householder gave Fairmont Area the insurance goal it needed when she scored unassisted with 8:15 remaining to bring the Cardinal lead to two, but Minnesota River’s Kylie Dunning scored off a double assist from Olness and Adrianna Bixby with 1:20 left to make the final minute interesting.

Minnesota River had a couple of opportunities to score in the final minute, but could not get a shot on goal to force Artz to save the game.

Olson said the team played well throughout the game and took advantage of opportunites when they arose.

“They played a solid three periods of hockey,” Olson said. “They moved the puck well, they were quick on their feet and they took scoring opportunities away from the Bulldogs. Overall it was a good game for us.”

Fairmont Area (2-5, 2-2 Big South) plays host to New Ulm at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.

Minnesota River (1-5, 0-3 Big South) plays at Windom at 1 p.m. Saturday.

MN River 2-0-2–4

Fairmont 1-3-1–5

Scoring Plays

1st Period

MR–Keely Olness (Whitney Weick), 12:45.

F–Brooklyn Meyer (Anna Nordquist, Tegan Roskop), 10:54.

MR–Nicole McCabe (Elle Seaver, Keely Olness), 2:24.

2nd Period

F–Joni Becker (unassisted), 11:45.

F–Joni Becker (Alexis Newville), 3:31.

F–Joni Becker (Mackenzie Householder, Jonissa Neitzel), 1:16.

3rd Period

MR–Nicole McCabe (Anna Pavlo), 13:16.

F–Mackenzie Householder (unassisted), 8:15.

MR–Kylie Dunning (Keely Olness, Adrianna Bixby), 1:20.

Shots on goal: Minnesota River 34; Fairmont Area 38.

Saves: Madison Kisor (MR) 29; Hadley Artz (F) 30.

Penalties: Minnesota River 4 for 8 minutes; Fairmont Area 1 for 2 minutes.

Power-play chances: Minnesota River 0-1; Fairmont Area 3-4.

Boys Hockey

Waseca 10, Fairmont Area 0 — The Bluejays flew by the Cardinals in a Big South Conference boys hockey matchup in Waseca on Thursday night.

Multi-goal nights from Noah Berg, Ben Mathern and Jagger Johnson led the Bluejays’ offensive attack, with each player scoring a pair of goals.

Ben Priebe, Andy Roessler, Brandon Dahnert and Bailey Schumacher also scored for the Bluejays.

Marcus Priebe earned a playmaker with three assists, while Charlie Huttemier had two and Tylor Nordquist, Ben Priebe, Schumacher, Johnson and Dahnert each had one helper.

Fairmont Area (0-2, 0-2 Big South) plays host Wahpeton, South Dakota, on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Martin County Arena.

Fairmont 0-0-0– 0

Waseca 5-3-2–10

Scoring Plays

1st Period

WA–Noah Berg (Tylor Nordquist), 13:47.

WA–Ben Mathern (unassisted), 9:11.

WA–Jagger Johnson (Marcus Priebe), 9:01.

WA–Jagger Johnson (Ben Priebe, Marcus Preibe), 6:14.

WA–Ben Priebe (Marcus Priebe), 2:11.

2nd Period

WA–Andy Roessler (Charlie Huttemier), 6:17.

WA–Noah Berg (Bailey Schumacher), 4:23.

WA–Brandon Dahnert (Noah Berg, Jagger Johnson), 0:30.

3rd Period

WA–Bailey Schumacher (Brandon Dahnert), 10:48.

WA–Ben Mathern (Charlie Huttemier), 4:50.