Scarlets ground Cardinals in hockey clash

LINED UP — Fairmont Area’s Tegan Roskop (17), Alexis Newville (middle) and Brooklyn Meyer (back right), along with goaltender Rachel O’Connor (1), line up to stop a shot by Mankato West’s Lindsey Hays (11) during nonconference hockey action Saturday at Martin County Arena in Fairmont. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — A potential rematch in the upcoming postseason.

Mankato West’s lethal trio of Lindsey Hays, Molly Grundhoffer and Sunshine Langworthy combined for seven goals and six assists to power the Scarlets to an 8-1 nonconference triumph over the Fairmont Area Cardinals during both teams’ next-to-last regular-season hockey game Saturday at Martin County Arena.

Fairmont Area (4-20) travels to Waseca tonight for its regular-season finale, while Mankato West (13-8-3) squares off against crosstown rival Mankato East at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Verizon Wireless Civic Center in Mankato.

According to the QRF website, the Scarlets hold the No. 2 spot in the Section 3A standings, while the Cardinals are seventh in the seven-team playoff bracket.

If Mankato West and Fairmont Area are voted that way during Tuesday’s sectional seeding process, the Scarlets would play host to the Cardinals in a 7 p.m. playoff quarterfinal on Thursday night.

“(Mankato) East beat us 3-2 earlier this season (on Jan. 3), and they are No. 1 according to the QRF,” said Mankato West head coach Shaun Reddy. “If we could beat them (tonight), I hope we’d have a chance at being No. 1 in the section and get a first-round bye.”

Grundhoffer and Hays made their case for the Scarlets netting the top seed in Section 3A by combining early and often to light the lamp at Martin County Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Grundhoffer produced the first goal of her hat trick by sliding the puck low from the left wing and under Cardinals freshman goaltender Rachel O’Connor, who had turned away the Scarlets’ first nine shots on net, with 7:28 remaining in the opening period.

Hays, who piled up a game-best seven points on the strength of four goals and a playmaker, delivered the first of her three assists from the point on Grundhoffer’s initial net-finder.

Hays then transitioned into goal-scoring mode, tapping in her own rebound just inside the right pipe at the 3:48 juncture after O’Connor blocked her first shot off a pinpoint pass from Hannah Wieland.

Hays closed out the first-period scoring by taking the first of Langworthy’s three assists along the right wing, slashed left and drilled a stop-and-pop liner into the twine with only 2:21 remaining in the first segment.

Hays completed her hat trick by cashing in another Langworthy assist for a stuff shot from the left doorstep for a 4-0 Scarlets’ lead with 12:02 remaining in the second period.

Hays then threaded a perfect centering pass from the left wing to a cutting Grundhoffer in the crease, and the Mankato West freshman center chipped the puck past O’Connor at the 8:55 mark.

Grundhoffer completed her hat trick by converting a double feed from Langworthy and Hays into an up-and-over-the-shoulder chip shot from the point to extend the Scarlets’ margin to 6-0 with only 5:42 left in the middle segment.

Allyson Grabianowski then delivered the only non-Hays or non-Grundhoffer goal for Mankato West via the power play off a pass from Wieland with just 1:48 to go in the second frame.

McKenna Krosch delivered the perfect lead pass to a breaking Hays, who utilized a left-wing wrister to fling the puck into the top right shelf for her fourth goal of the game with 11:55 remaining in the third period.

Fairmont Area eighth-grader Hannah Goerndt, however, spoiled Mankato West goalie Sarah Olsen’s shutout bid at the 7:17 mark during running time in the final frame. Goerndt took a pass from freshman defender Macy Militello and went top shelf with her shot from the point to account for the Cardinals’ only goal of the day.

Olsen, who turned away Fairmont Area wing Anna Nordquist’s right-wing rush at the 12:33 mark of the first period, finished with 16 saves to net the win for West.

O’Connor recorded a game-best 29 saves for the Cardinals, who were outshot by a 37-17 margin.

Mankato West 3-4-1–8

Fairmont Area 0-0-1–1

Scoring Plays

1st Period

MW–Molly Grundhoffer (Lindsey Hays), 7:28.

MW–Lindsey Hays (Hannah Wieland), 3:48.

MW–Lindsey Hays (Sunshine Langworthy), 2:21.

2nd Period

MW–Lindsey Hays (Sunshine Langworthy), 12:02.

MW–Molly Grundhoffer (Lindsey Hays), 8:55.

MW–Molly Grundhoffer (Lindsey Hays, Sunshine Langworthy), 5:42.

MW–Allyson Grabianowski (Hannah Wieland), PP., 1:48.

3rd Period

MW–Lindsey Hays (McKenna Krosch), 11:55.

FA–Hannah Goerndt (Macy Militello), 7:17.

Shots on goal: Mankato West 18-14-5–37; Fairmont Area 8-6-3–17.

Saves: Rachel O’Connor (FA) 29; Sarah Olsen (MW) 16.

Penalties: Mankato West 3 for 6 minutes; Fairmont Area 2 for 4.

Power-play chances: Mankato West 1 for 2; Fairmont Area 0 for 3.