Third period rally leads Wildcats to first win
The opening game of most seasons can be one that is waiting to reach its climax. With the anticipation for the opener building since the team started practice, everyone awaits for that one moment where everything feels like it did when they played their last game months ago.
The season opener for the Dodge County girls hockey team was no different this year as a couple periods showed some opening night jitters. However, the Wildcats caught their balance in the third period, scoring four goals to secure a 4-2 victory at Simley on November 14.
“We were good on the power play throughout the night and both goals that we gave up were kind of ugly goals,” Dodge County head coach Jeremy Gunderson observed. “I think that was just some opening night jitters and we were able to play better in the third period and win the game.”
Things got off to a rocky start for the Wildcats when they were called for a too many men on the ice penalty at 5:21. Avery Schwark would make Dodge County pay with a power play goal to give the Spartans an early 1-0 advantage. They would add to that lead after Olivia Smallbrock was called for a checking penalty and opened the door for a Megan O’Connor power play goal to make it 2-0 late in the second period.
From there, the Wildcats went to work when Kayla Schubert would score the first goal of the season for Dodge County on the ensuing power play to cut the lead in half going into the second intermission. When the Wildcats emerged, Schubert would score again on the power play to tie the game before Anna Braun scored her first varsity goal of her career to give Dodge County the lead.
Kennedy Kraus would add a power play marker of her own from Olivia Smallbrock and Katrina Thoe to add an insurance goal and the Wildcats would head home with their first win of the year.
“We played our four lines and we kind of stuck to our plan,” Gunderson said of the third period. “They played three the entire night and then went down to two in the third [period], so we kind of wore them down as the night went along.”
Also adding to the game was the play of Annabel Smith, who picked up her first varsity win of her career by stopping eight out of 10 shots faced on the evening.
“There’s a lot going on for a goalie at the varsity level,” Gunderson said. “She let in a couple at the beginning of the game, but she wound up finishing strong. It’s huge to get that first win.”
The Wildcats had their home opener with Cloquet-Ekslo-Carlton that was scheduled for last Friday night postponed to January 16 as C-E-C rescheduled with their team making it to the state football semifinals. The Wildcats next game will take place on November 25 when they travel to St. Francis/North Branch at 3 p.m.
Dodge County will now hold its home opener on November 28 when they host Red Wing.