January 16, 2004 at 12:24 p.m.
Last week was the most important week of the season to date for the Chisago Lakes girls hockey team period. No if's, and’s, or but’s about it. The fans knew it, the coaches knew it, and the players knew it.
‘We didn’t want to get two games behind them in the standings,” said Al Magnuson, Chisago Lakes girls hockey head coach, referring to Centennial who up until Last Thursday was in the drivers seat in the North Suburban conference with a 6-0 record. Chisago Lakes was 6-1. Was in the drivers seat until the Wildcats stopped the car and shoved the Cougars out, beating Centennial 2-1 in front of one of the largest crowds to ever see a girls hockey game at Chisago Lakes Arena.
The game lived up to the hype. Chisago Lakes opened the scoring in the first period, thanks to a tremendous effort by Anne Fredrickson on the penalty kill. Working shorthanded, the sophomore speed demon beat Cougar goalie Alannah McCready, making it 1-0 midway through the period.
“We played good in the first,” mentioned Magnuson. It was a total thing effort. They all skated hard and Jackie Weiden played well in the nets. Our backchecking was good and the girls played smart. It was just the type of start we were looking for.”
The first goal was huge for the Wildcats, mainly because it was the only goal of the game until the third. Like a heavyweight fight, both teams went back and forth in the second, setting the tone for the third. Even the shots were dead even with Chisago holding a slight advantage after two, 16-12.
“We held the edge pretty much the whole game territorially,” remarked Magnuson. “The girls were getting off a lot of shots, they were aiming for the corners, but we weren’t hitting the net. Hopefully the girls are starting to look up a little bit more and aim for those corners. The only problem was that we weren’t hitting our target.”
Less than four minutes into the third, Lexy Parenteau hit her target, jumping the ‘Cats in front 2-0 on an even strength goal. Nicole Grossmann and Chantel Duffney picked up the assists on the goal. A very important goal.
“That was so big to get that second goal, but at the same time, the girls couldn’t let up,” said Magnuson. “We knew that all they needed was a goal and they were right back into it. Jackie (Weiden) played awesome in goal, helping us hold on to that lead.”
Centennial got their goal, however, it came late in third, proving to be too little, too late. Weiden and company shut the down the rest of the way, wrapping up a critical 2-1 win.
“We needed that one,” mentioned Magnuson. “Most of the girls knew how important it was to get a win. We asked them in the locker room before the game who was nervous and 75 percent of them raised their hands. It was a big game and the girls stepped up. It was a huge win.”
How huge? The win jumped the ‘Cats in front of Centennial in the conference standings, putting them in first place with eight league games left.
Chisago Lakes 2
1 2 3 F
Centennial -- -- 1 1
Chisago Lakes 1 -- 1 2
1) CL- Fredrickson (Grossmann) (sh) 8:26.
2) CL- Parenteau (Grossmann, Duffney) 3:17; 3) Cen- #4 (#23) 14:43.
Chisago Lakes 4
Last Saturday, the Wildcats faced another stiff test when Irondale came to town. This game was another conference match-up, but it also went much deeper than that. Standing at 7-1 in the North Suburban going into the, the Wildcats lone conference blemish came at the hands of Irondale back in December. Since that loss, Chisago had won 10 of their last 11, and after beating Irondale 4-1, it’s now 11 of their last 12.
Chisago Lakes pressed out of the locker room, maybe too much as Irondale built a 1-0 lead midway through the first. It wasn’t until Nicole Grossmann’s goal late in the period, tying the score 1-1, that things began to roll for the ‘Cats.
Two minutes after Grossmann’s tally, Lexy Parenteau put the Wildcats in front 2-1 with her second goal in as many games. Almost simultaneously, as the puck went in, the huge weight that Chisago was skated around with was lifted. In other words, it opened up the flood gates.
“We were flying, maybe more than we’ve ever been before, but when they took the lead, the girls tightened up a little bit,” said Magnuson. “They remembered what happened last time, but after we scored that first goal and then the second, you could just see an instant change. You could see the weight being lifted off their shoulders. They were ready to go and they brought their game to another level.”
Leading 2-1, the Wildcats swarmed around the Irondale net from start to finish, outshooting them 17-4 in the period. One of those 17 shots came from Grossmann as the junior notched her second goal of the game, catapulting the ‘Cats in front 3-1 after two. Rhiannon Sauter added a final blow late in the third, scoring the Wildcats fourth goal of the game, capping off a 4-1 win.
“It was another team effort and that’s the way this team is going to win,” remarked Magnuson. “We have girls who skate so well on both ends. Anne Fredrickson had a great game. She had the puck shorthanded for 40 seconds by herself at one point in the game. She just kept skating, even the crowd got into it. They started chanting her name, it was unbelievable. That’s the type of effort we got from all of our girls and that’s what we needed.”
Not only did the win equal revenge, it pushed the Wildcats conference record to 8-1 and their overall record to 12-3. This week, two more chances at two more wins with section games at Duluth Denfeld and a home match-up with Grand Rapids. Last week the focus was on conference, this week it’s all about section 7AA.
“We want that number two seed in the section behind Cloquet,” said Magnuson. “Some of our goals at the beginning of the season was to play better against some of the teams we lost to last year. We lost to Grand Rapids so I don’t think I’ll have to have much to get them ready.”
No, like we’ve seen before, they fire themselves up just fine.
Chisago Lakes 4
1 2 3 F
Irondale 1 -- -- 1
Chisago Lakes 2 1 1 4
1) I- #21 (unassisted) 8:51; 2) CL- Grossmann (unassisted) 11:01; 3) CL- Parenteau (unassisted) 13:48.
4) CL- Grossmann (Rammer) 6:48.
5) CL- Sauter (Fredrickson) 14:49.