Polars zeroing in on first CSC girls puck championship

The Classic Suburban Conference has been in existence five years. It’s been a habit - a bad habit for all but the South St. Paul Packers - that South St. Paul ended up on top of the girls’ hockey standings come early February.

Jan. 20, at Wakota Arena, the North Polars girl’s hockey forces took a giant step to change that “bad” habit.

North skated to a 6-4 victory over South St. Paul and kept their conference record unblemished with a 9-0 mark. The win over South St. Paul was the second of the season for North.

Back on Dec. 20, at Polar Arena, North ended five years of frustration when they handed the Packers a 3-0 setback for their first victory in girls’ hockey over South St. Paul since the CSC was formed in 2001-02.

The latest victory moved North to 2-8 against their counterparts from across the Mississippi River.

Following the South St. Paul game, North has three games remaining with Classic Suburban Conference opponents. A victory in any one of the three will provide the Polars with their first conference girls hockey championship.

In moving to within one game of the title, the Polars got on the board first when the Packers afforded them a power play chance.

Hannah Davis slid the puck into Maria Bothwell who, in turn, feathered a feed across to McKaela Rees. A one-timer found pay dirt just 3:47 into the game and the Polars’ would not look back.

Less than a minute later, the North “Thunder Cats”, Allie Thunstrom and Caitlin Hogan, performed their magic.

Following the face off, North charged into the South St. Paul end. Thunstrom threw the puck into the slot. Hogan darted in to misdirect the disc to the back twines. Just 32 seconds after the first tally, North was up 2-0.

A Polar penalty put them down a skater and South St. Paul did not pass up the opportunity.

Passes from the sticks of Kelly Mueller and Annie Bauerfeld found the blade of Jackie Robertson. The senior defender let fly a blast from just inside the North blue line. The back mesh twinged for a power play tally at 12:42.

The teams skated to the first intermission with North on top of the 2-1 leeway.

That changed early in the second canto when Thunstrom and Hogan teamed up to get the puck to Sara Sbragia.

The junior defender loaded her gun and her bullet changed the scoreboard to 3-1 Polars just 46 seconds into the period.

Less than two minutes later Michelle McDonald sent a feed to Hogan, who hit Thunstrom, who hit the jackpot when she finished the play with a goal at 2:04.

But South St. Paul would not let the game get out of hand. Rita Simones sent a feed to Robertson and she picked up the second of her four points in the game with a pass to Bauerfeld, who converted at 7:02.

The teams headed into the third 17-minute session with North owning a two-goal, 4-2 margin.

There was good end-to-end action as fans were entertained by the play on the ice.

But the partisan Packer patrons were silenced once more when Hogan sailed to the circle to the right of the South St. Paul net and sent a feed to the slot. There, Thunstrom tipped the puck inside the pipes at 8:17, with what turned out to be the game-winner.

The Packers skated hard and saw their efforts pay off when Robertson and Bloemers fed the disc to Bauerfeld. She found a niche in the armor of North net-minder Breanna Scavo at 12:21.

The teams skated hard with the clock more and more in North’s favor.

South St. Paul opted to pull their goalie in favor of a sixth attacker and saw the strategy backfire, when Rees broke free with the puck.

Her shot sailed across the line and into the empty net at 13:54 for her second tally of the game.

But the Packers did not go down without an effort to the end.

With just under two minutes until the final horn, Katelyn Crnobrna sent a feed to Bloemers. The senior winger picked up her second assist with a feed to Robertson, who hit pay dirt at 15:07.

It was a four-point night for Robertson (two goals and two assists) along with a two-goal-one-assist game for Bauerfeld, but it went for naught as North held on to gain the 6-4 edge for their second win of the season over the Packers.

The victory left North with a CSC record of 9-0 and an overall mark of 18-1-1.

The loss dropped the Packers to 5-2-1, 14-6-1.

The Packers are at West St. Paul Arena to face Sibley on Feb. 3 and North rounds out their season at Polar Arena against Richfield the same night.

Games, unless otherwise noted, are 7:30 p.m. scheduled starts.

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