Mankato West ‘powers’ past Fairmont Area in hockey opener
FAIRMONT — Mankato West freshman forward Penny Gorman proved right on the money during the first period of the visiting Scarlets’ hockey season-opener against Fairmont Area on Friday night.
Gorman and fellow ninth-grader Maleah Giesen combined for early back-to-back goals to power the Scarlets to a 4-1 non-league triumph over the hometown Cardinals at Martin County Arena in Fairmont.
“The first period didn’t go our way at all and we trailed by two (goals),” Fairmont Area head coach Eric Householder said in reference to Mankato West’s 15-5 shooting edge during the initial 17 minutes. “I thought we held our own with them in shots-on-goal (17 to 19) during the second and third periods, but just couldn’t make up the early deficit.
“Tonight was a ‘Let’s get a game under our belts and try to figure out how our lines fit together’ season-opener.”
Gorman, who generated a team-best 15 goals as an eighth-grader in 2022-23, displayed her scoring skills by cashing in Giesen’s assist for an initial power-play goal. Fairmont Area netminder Ilana Moeller stonewalled Gorman’s initial low shot before the Mankato West freshman flipped her own rebound over Moeller’s shoulder at the 11:28 mark.
Gorman and Giesen worked together to double the Scarlets’ lead with 8:53 remaining in the opening frame. Giesen drilled a left-side shot that Moeller deflected only to have Gorman tap home the putback for a twine-finder.
Ella Olson appeared to have cashed in a breakaway pass from Gorman at the 13:06 juncture of the second period for a goal, but the play was nullified due to an injury occurring just seconds prior to the shot’s release.
Anna Olsen, however, netted a left-to-right goal off a Maree Zimmerman assist just as time in the Scarlets’ next power-play expired for a 3-0 lead with 11:06 showing on the scoreboard.
Senior forward Bella Larson unleashed 10 shots on goal during the middle segment to help Fairmont Area match Mankato West with 13 apiece, but the Cardinals still trailed by three goals on the scoreboard heading into the final frame.
“Give credit to Karissa (Newville) for ending the Mankato West goalie’s shutout bid with her short-handed goal during the third period,” said Householder.
Facing a third Mankato West power play, Newville tracked down the loose puck, worked the left wing, sliced right and then drilled a right-to-left liner between Scarlets’ goalie Alayna Smith and the left pipe for a Fairmont Area score with 6:35 remaining in regulation.
Tori Tosch later restored Mankato West’s three-goal edge by stuffing home a backside rebound off Zimmerman’s blocked left-side blast with only 1:20 left in regulation.
“Our lines are gonna change after we’ve had more time at practice to figure out which combinations work the best,” said Householder. “Ilana did a good job in net, so we just need to throw the puck on net at the other end more.”
Moeller chalked up a game-best 30 saves for the Cardinals, while Smith garnered the win by turning away 21 shots on net.
Fairmont Area (0-1) opens Big South Conference action when it plays host to Waseca at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at Martin County Arena.
Mankato West (1-0) plays host to Worthington at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at All Seasons Arena in Mankato.
Kato West 2-1-1–4
MW–Penny Gorman (Maleah Giesen), PP., 11:28.
MW–Penny Gorman (Maleah Giesen), 8:53.
MW–Anna Olsen (Maree Zimmerman), PP., 11:06.
FA–Karissa Newville (unassisted), SH., 6:35.
MW–Tori Tosch (Maree Zimmerman), 1:20.
Shots on goal: Mankato West 15-13-6–34; Fairmont Area 5-13-4–22.
Saves: Ilana Moeller (FA) 30; Alayna Smith (MW) 21.
Penalties: Fairmont Area 3 for 6 minutes; Mankato West 1 for 2 minutes.
Power-Play Chances: Mankato West 2-for-3; Fairmont Area 0-for-1.