Wildcats take out Apple Valley to win Warroad Tournament
The Dodge County Wildcats are poised to make a run in February’s state tournament, but their final game in the Warroad tournament on Dec. 29 served as a final reminder that the biggest part of the season is yet to come. With the 8-2 victory over Apple Valley, the Wildcats came from behind and showed the brand of hockey they need to play down the stretch.
“Every game from here on out is going to have a playoff atmosphere,” Dodge County head coach Jeremy Gunderson said. “We tell the kids that the real season starts as soon as the calendar turns and you have to win every game down the stretch.”
That stretch began against Apple Valley as the Wildcats came out a little bit flat. After giving up a goal to Mikayla DeForrest midway through the opening period, Gunderson and his staff had an important message for his team at the intermission as they get ready for the most important games of the season.
“We went to the locker room and kind of explained to everybody that this was it,” Gunderson explained. “Especially for our seniors, this was a chance to win a championship. It was the mindset we had to have and it woke up the kids.”
Dodge County responded to the pep talk with three goals in the second period with a pair of goals from Bella Wagner and a power play marker from Molly Shelton to take a 3-1 lead. Not willing to let their foot off the gas, Gunderson had a different tone when the Wildcats went into the locker room after a successful second period.
“We talked about how to finish teams when you have them on the ropes,” Gunderson revealed. “The kids really took that message to heart when they came out for the third.”
The third period would represent one of Dodge County’s finest periods of the season as they tallied five goals in the final frame. Wagner would dust off a hat trick before Katie Robinson would score a pair of goals to stretch the lead to 6-1. Teigan Petersen and Shelton would add to the lead and the Wildcats would walk away with the tournament title after an 8-2 victory.