Cougars hockey wears down Cardinals in home-opener
FAIRMONT — Fairmont Area center Mackenzie Householder and the Cardinals played the ultimate perfect opening 40 seconds of their home hockey opener Thursday night.
Forward Joni Becker converted Householder’s winning tap off the initial faceoff for a left-wing goal in a school record-setting 5 seconds before Householder spotted Brooklyn Meyer for a left top-shelf blast from the wing 35 seconds later for a 2-0 lead over the Mankato East/Loyola Cougars at Martin County Arena.
Forward Sydney Kanstrup, however, lended her stick to the Cougars’ converting 3 of 4 power-play chances, while freshman goalie Anna Rader made 34 saves to pace an 8-3 non-league triumph over the Cardinals at Martin County Arena.
“I know it sounds odd, but we tried to play at that (offensive) pace and it wore us down a bit,” said Fairmont Area head coach Ashley Olson. “Penalties also hurt us tonight as they (Cougars) were nearly perfect on the power play.
“We’re getting a lot more shots on goal than a year ago, so I’m happy with that stat,” Olson said in reference to the Cardinals matching the Cougars with 37 apiece. “Now we just need to stay active and scrappy in front of the net.”
Down 2-0, junior forward Kaylee Eykyn bridged the first intermission with her two goals to draw East/Loyola even on the scoreboard.
After Fairmont Area freshman netminder Hadley Artz stonewalled breakaway shots by East/Loyola’s Kanstrup and Evey Johnson at the 8:19 and 6:35 junctures, respectively, Eykyn erased the goose egg with a breakaway wrister off a Kailey Newton assist at the 5:54 mark of the opening period.
Eykyn then punched home Sophie Steindl’s pass just inside the left pipe with 7:02 left in the second segment to knot the game at 2-all.
Ironically, the Cougars capitalized on both a power-play and a short-handed opportunity to close out the middle frame with a 4-2 advantage.
Gracie Bowman drilled a blast from the point off a Hannah Rigdon assist for the go-ahead goal via the one-player advantage at the 3:30 mark before Kanstrup ripped a slapshot into the twine off a lead pass from Johnson for a two-goal edge with 17 seconds to go. The Cougars were down a skater on Kanstrup’s goal.
Junior forward Tegan Roskop then breathed new life into Fairmont Area’s offense to open the third period. Meyer kept possession of the puck for the Cardinals near the Cougars’ cage, Rader then blocked Householder’s shot off Meyer’s entry pass and Roskop fielded the rebound before utilizing a spinning backhander from out front to find the webbing for a 4-3 deficit at 12:22.
Kanstrup, however, dominated the final 9:35 of regulation, filtering an assist to Rigdon for a doorstep stuff shot out of a scrum in the crease for a 5-3 lead.
Piper Guillemette scored the Cougars’ next goal 11 seconds after the visitors’ power-play chance officially ended with 7:06 to go in the third frame.
Kanstrup later put the exclamation mark on the victory by scoring her second goal of the game with 4:52 remaining before delivering a perfect crossing pass to assist Emma Bastian’s power-play goal with only 29 seconds showing on the scoreboard.
Rader netted the win by turning away 34 of Fairmont Area’s 37 shots, while Artz delivered another solid outing by recording 29 stops for the Cardinals.
Fairmont Area (0-2) travels to All Seasons Arena in Mankato on Saturday to face Mankato West in a 1 p.m. non-league contest.
Mankato East/Loyola (2-0) plays host to Austin at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at All Seasons Arena in Mankato.
FA–Joni Becker (Mackenzie Householder), 16:55.
FA–Brooklyn Meyer (Householder), 16:20.
EL–Kaylee Eykyn (Kailey Newton), 5:54.
EL–K. Eykyn (Sophie Steindl), 7:02.
EL–Gracie Bowman (Hannah Rigdon), PP, 3:30.
EL–Sydney Kanstrup (Evey Johnson), SH, 0:17.
FA–Tegan Roskop (Householder, Meyer), 12:22.
EL–Rigdon (Kanstrup), PP, 9:35.
EL–Piper Guillemette (Jess Eykyn), 7:06.
EL–Kanstrup (Megan Rosenbauer), 4:52.
EL–Emma Bastian (Kanstrup), PP, 0:29.
Shots on goal: Fairmont Area 14-9-14–37; East/Loyola 12-9-16–37.
Saves: Hadley Artz (FA) 11-6-12–29; Anna Rader (EL) 12-9-13–34.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 5 for 13 minutes; East/Loyola 3 for 6 minutes
Power-play chances: East/Loyola 3-for-4; Fairmont Area 0-for-2.