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Girls hockey: Pioneers pound Polars in 4-1 loss
North’s Marit Larson stops 45 shots
Hill-Murray 4 - North 1
Despite North High net keeper Marit Larson’s amazing performance in stopping 45 shots by the Hill-Murray Pioneers Friday, Dec. 13, it was the four that eluded her that cost her and her teammates the hockey game.
The Pioneers scored three goals in the first period of the game at Polar Arena and then were limited to just one more in the final 34 minutes.
“We haven’t been scoring that much lately,” explained Hill-Murray head coach Bill Schafhauser. “Their goalie made a big difference tonight. She made some great saves. She smothered most everything and didn’t give up any rebounds.
“Scoring-wise, we have to find someone to start putting it in the net for us. But it was a good game for us.
“I’m not disappointed in our effort tonight. Our kids played hard for the full game,” Schafhauser said.
North coach Allie Thunstrom also was not displeased with her team’s performance.
Thunstrom praised Larson, stating, “She really came ready to play. She’s been doing well for us, but tonight she was really up for this game.
“All of our kids played well. I’m proud of the effort we put in tonight.
“We are struggling right now with winning games, but we have plenty of time yet to make adjustments.
“Our effort tonight by our top two lines was very consistent. Our seniors are stepping up and showing good leadership. Tonight was a very good team effort,” Thunstrom said.
Pioneers’ fast start
The opening goal came just 1:26 into the fray. The Pioneers were buzzing in the North zone, when freshman Taylor Wemple’s laser shot caught the far right corner for a 1-0 margin.
Hill-Murray kept charging into North’s end and Larson kept turning shots aside. A feed from Taylor Lambert caught the blade of Haylee Blinkhorn, who was cruising down the slot.
The seventh-grade sharpshooter hit the back of the North net at 5:15 with what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
It became 3-0 six minutes later when Laura Anderson put a shot on net. The puck was stopped, but not cleared. Jac Kaasa was at the doorstep and slapped it to the rear of the goal at 11:39 in the first period.
The second session got underway and a North sortie paid off when Haley Schanks sent a sizzler on goal. Hill-Murray goalie Mari Johnson made the save, but the puck caromed to her right and on hand was sophomore Lily Langevin who directed the puck back inside the right post to put the Polars on the scoreboard at 3:08.
The Pioneers came back charging and some crisp passing saw Samantha Boyer feather a feed to Kaasa who sent a superb pass a cruising Sarah Bobrowski. Her blistering shot from 16 feet went inside the right post to give Hill-Murray a 4-1 lead at 4:36 of the period.
For the next 29:24, the goalies stood their ground. In the third period, Larson nearly stood on her head as she turned aside 21 Hill-Murray missiles.
The win leaves the Pioneers undefeated in Classic Suburban Conference play at 2-0. They are 4-2 overall.
The loss dropped the struggling Polars to 0-3, and 1-8 overall.
Next up for North is a game against Warroad at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Polar Arena. The Polars will then participate in a holiday tournament that will be played Dec. 28-29 at Coon Rapids.
Hill-Murray will face Henry Sibley at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at the West St. Paul Arena and then will play in the annual South St. Paul tournament at Wakota Arena Dec. 30-31 and Jan. 1.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at email@example.com.