November 28, 2003 at 9:29 a.m.
Forest Lake 1
The wait was finally over. The much anticipated debut had finally arrived for the Chisago Lakes girls hockey team. With the big exception of Chelsea Stimson, everyone was back from last year’s squad that went 18-7-2. Everyone. Because of that, the Wildcats aren’t considered sections contenders, some coaches in the section think they may be the favorites! Needless to say, people were interested in seeing how good this team really is, or how good they can be.
In front of the line, patiently waiting himself was Chisago Lakes girls hockey head coach Al Magnuson, anxiously awaiting the Wildcats season opening matchup with Forest Lake. He already knows how good this team is, now it was time to show it.
The Wildcats took the ice as expected, with a balanced attack from top to bottom. Chisago Lakes bombarded the Rangers every chance they got, controlling the flow, massively out-shooting the undermatched Rangers. Still, five minutes into the opening period, no goals.
“We were definitely shaky early,” commented Magnuson. “They skated hard but their hands weren’t there, we just weren’t doing the little things- we have to do the little things. I expected to outshoot them big, we just have to start burying the puck.”
Nicole Grossmann finally did at the 5:35 mark of the first period, putting the Wildcats in front with a shorthanded goal, leading to a collective sigh of relief coming from the Wildcat bench.
In the second, both teams traded goals making it 2-1 after two. Chisago Lakes then put it away in the third with another goal, leading to a 3-1 win. Grossmann scored her second goal of the game late. Rhiannon Sauter also added a score.
In addition, Anne Fredrickson, Cassi Lukas, and Amanda Rammer added points, each picking up an assist. The win put the ‘Cats record at 1-0 with their stiffest test of the season upcoming.
Chisago Lakes 1
A win against Forest Lake was one thing. Making it two in a row was a different story.
Last Saturday, the Wildcats traveled to Pine City to host Cloquet/Esko/Carlton, the same team that lost in the Class “AA” state championship game last season to South St. Paul. The same team that was rated number two in the state heading into the game. The same team that dominated the ‘Cats last year. The same team that looks to be the section favorite again this season.
While some people looked at those obstacles as a problem, Magnuson and company looked at it as an opportunity.
“We were nervous, anyone is going to have nerves in that situation,” said Magnuson. “The girls used that and came out flying. We shut down their first line entirely. We just really did a nice job.”
Going in as the massive underdog, the Wildcats turned the tables, dominating the first period of play. Nicole Grossmann lit the lamp 11 minutes into the game for her third goal of the season. The tally was an even strength goal with Rammer earning the lone assist. At the end of the first period, an upset was brewing.
However, the momentum shifted to Cloquet in the second as the game turned drastically. Tied 1-1, the ‘Cats were hit with four penalties in the second, giving Cloquet four chances on the power play, They connected twice. After leading for the first 15 minutes, Chisago trailed after 30 minutes, 3-1.
“I’m not going to get into that. I didn’t agree with some of the calls and that gave them way too many power plays,” remarked Magnuson. “I thought the girls were playing aggressive but the calls didn’t go our way.”
From that point on, neither did the game. Still 3-1 in the third, Chisago Lakes decided to pull their goalie with under two minutes to play, only to have Cloquet clank the puck off the boards, right in to the open net. The empty-netter was the final straw in the 4-1 loss.
“We outshot them, they were having more problems getting out of there zone than we were,” said Magnuson. “I had nothing to say to the girls, they didn’t do anything wrong. Our speed and depth was no problem. They have a good first line but we have more depth. I just can’t wait to see them again.”
Magnuson is not alone in that request. Even though the Wildcats walked away with a loss on the scoreboard, the team knows it was a win when it comes to confidence.
“When I got on the bus, I looked at the girls and told them that we found out one thing and that was that we can beat that team and go to state,” smiled Magnuson. “Last year we got beat 6-0 and got outshot. This time, we outshot them. I just thought we played awesome.”
The loss evened the Wildcats record at 1-1 on the season.
Note: Magnuson announced this week that Megan Fors will out for the season due to knee surgery. Fors is a junior.
Cloquet 4, Chisago Lakes 1
1 2 3 F
Cloquet/Esko/Carlton - 3 1 4
Centennial 1 -- 1 1
1) CL- Grossmann 3 (Rammer) 11:26
2) C-E-C- # 6 (#5, #9) :34; 3) C-E-C- #5 (#6, #9) (ppg) 10:48; 4) C-E-C- #3 (#19) (ppg) 15:31.
5) C-E-C- #3 (#16) (en) 15:10.