Three goals in one minute stops Wildcats
In the early part of the season, the Dodge County girls hockey team has looked like they will be a team to deal with. After taking home a victory in their season opener at Simley, the Wildcats displayed a deep offensive approach combined with a defensive effort that limits opportunities for their opponents.
For 51 minutes, the Wildcats displayed that same type of game against St. Francis/North Branch. The November 25 matchup was dominated by Dodge County despite facing a Fighting Saints team that entered the game 3-0.
However, hockey is a sport where dominating opportunities isn’t something that always shows up on the scoreboard. This was one of those games as the Saints scored three goals in the final minute of the second period to take home a 4-3 victory.
“As a team, we played great hockey,” Dodge County head coach Jeremy Gunderson said. “It was a tough loss because we controlled the game in every aspect. It was just bad luck and some bounces where we should have had it.”
Offensively, the Wildcats were at the top of their game. Dodge County outshot the Fighting Saints 45-14 on the game and displayed the kind of depth that has been boasted throughout the early part of the season. Katrina Thoe, Rose Kraus and Katie Montrose would all get on the board for the Wildcats as they jumped out to an early lead.
The three goals were a huge boost for the Wildcats as St. Francis/North Branch goaltender Rachel Miller had not been scored upon in the three previous games to open the season. Still, Gunderson felt his team should have had more with the huge shot advantage.
“We have to finish better than that,” Gunderson said. “When you have that many shots on net, you should have more than three goals, even against a hot goaltender. We just had some great looks that we didn’t finish, but we should have.”
With the door opened, the Fighting Saints were able to pounce especially on the power play, where they scored twice on three opportunities. Dodge County goaltender Annabel Smith also looked good for the most part of her second career start, but faltered in the one-minute stretch that ultimately cost the Wildcats the game.
“We have to have a higher save percentage,” Gunderson said. “You can’t roll into games with a .740 save percentage and expect to win too many games.”
The Wildcats will hope to rebound this week as they hosted Red Wing for their home opener on Tuesday night. In addition, the Wildcats will also host Rochester John Marshall on Friday before traveling to Hastings. Gunderson admitted that the result was disappointing, but with the season still young, he was eager to see what his team could do to rebound.
“We’ve only had two games,” Gunderson said. “We’re just looking to see how the kids respond and get them some more playing time. Obviously, we want to get better on special teams and get stronger in net. I think that’s something we can do once we get more comfortable.”