December 1, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.
"The game against Breck was a weird, weird game," said Wildcat head coach Jason Mahlen. What Mahlen was referring to was the fact that Breck beat the Wildcats 8-1 on Friday, November 18 at Breck. "It didn't seem like a blowout," he said. "It was tightly contested early, they got a couple of fluky goals, we had some bad luck trying to put the puck in the net and things just kind of got away from us. Even though the score may not be indicative of it, I think we proved we can skate with the number two team in the state.'
The Mustangs scored twice in the first period. The first goal came on a power play. Wildcat goalie Jamie Dobosenski got her stick on a tough shot, but the puck rolled up and over her stick and just trickled over the line. Breck added a rebound goal a few minutes later to stretch the lead to 2-0. With 3 seconds left in the period, Megan Lushanko was tripped from behind as she was going in alone on the Mustang goalie. The referees were apparently too timid to call a penalty shot. Breck did get a tripping minor, but the Wildcats failed to take advantage of the ensuing power play.
Breck scored a shorthanded goal with 9:17 left in the second period to stretch their lead to 3-0. The Wildcats scored on the power play 30 seconds later to cut the Mustang lead to 3-1. Allison Borgstrom fired a shot on net from the far side of the right circle. The puck rebounded right, and Ashlee Ricci one-timed a shot on net. The puck bounced to the left. Lushanko, standing on the doorstep to the left of the crease, knocked the puck into the open left side of the net and grabbed a little bit of momentum for the Wildcats. But with two minutes left in the period, the Wildcats were caught in a bad line change. Breck's star player weaved through the scrambling Wildcat defense and scored to regain their 3 goal lead.
Dobosenski's knee started to give her some trouble in the second period, Amanda Shoquist replaced her in the nets for the third period. Despite being down 4-1, the Wildcats came out of the locker with some extra bounce in their step. But the Mustangs scored four more times in the third period to win by the final score of 8-1.
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 4, Chisago Lakes 2
Megan Lushanko scored midway through the third period to cut the CEC lead to 3-2 and grab some momentum for the WIldcats. But CEC took the momentum right back with a breakaway goal just 30 seconds later and went on to beat the Wildcats 4-2 Tuesday, November 22 at the Cloquet Area Recreation Center.
Neither team scored in an evenly played first period. CEC got on the scoreboard first midway through the second period. But with just over a minute left in the period, Alison Borgstrom passed the puck to Lushanko in the CEC zone. Lushanko cycled out of the left corner and crossed the middle of the slot. She made a nice back door pass to Ashlee Ricci, who slammed it into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
CEC scored twice just over a minute apart early in the third period to take a 3-1 lead. With 9:40 remaining in the game, Borgstrom passed the puck to Lushanko. Lushanko sped to the slot, shot quickly and scored to cut the CEC lead to 3-2. But CEC quickly answered to stretch the lead back to two goals and shut the Wildcats down the rest of the way to come away with the win.
Wildcat head coach Jason Mahlen was frustrated with the Wildcats' defensive lapses. "All four of the goals were preventable," he said. "It's not like they got great chances. On one goal, we had three players worrying about someone behind the net while they left another player wide open in the slot, and she scored easily. On another, we failed to take advantage of an opportunity to block a shot that was screened from Jamie by a lot of bodies. And a turnover in our slot led to the third goal. As a coaching staff, we need to do a better job of making sure the players understand their responsibilities. We have a veteran group that is definitely capable of doing better in the mental part of the game."
Despite the loss, it wasn't all bad for the Wildcats. Mahlen was especially pleased with the play of one of his senior forwards. "Megan Lushanko had a very good game," he said. "Not a lot of players are capable of making that nice back door pass she made to Ashlee Ricci. She moved the puck well all night and used her great speed to get to the slot on her goal-scoring play. She's off to a nice start with four goals and two assists through our first three games."
The Wildcats will get a good test of their endurance with four games in a five day period. Tomorrow night, they'll host Eveleth-Gilbert at Chisago Lakes Arena at 7 p.m. They play at home again just a few hours later, playing Hibbing at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. After a mandatory day off on Sunday, they head to Princeton for a 5:15 game on Monday, December 5. And the Wildcats will return to Chisago Lakes Arena on Tuesday, December 6 to take on Moose Lake at 7 p.m.
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