February 24, 2011 at 12:27 p.m.
It became clear early in the game that the referees decided to let the teams play. Apparently, they forgot that checking was illegal in girls' hockey. To their credit, the Golden Bears took advantage of the situation, using their size to thwart the Wildcats' superior speed. They thwarted the usual breakout ability of Megan Lushanko by squeezing her as she moved into the offensive zone and knocking her off the puck.
The Wildcats came out in the first period like they were on fire, outshooting the Golden Bears 12-4 by the time the period was halfway over. But they didn't take advantage of some good scoring opportunities. The Wildcats took a penalty with 7:15 left in the period. They killed it off, but couldn't get the puck out of the zone as the penalty expired. Eveleth moved the puck to the right side of the net. Wildcat goalie Jamie Dobosenski appeared to be in position to make the save. She got most of a shot from about ten feet away, but the puck somehow got through. It rolled slowly over the goal line and gave the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead.
The turning point in the game happened with just over two minutes left in the first period. Standing behind the Wildcat net, a Wildcat defenseman fired the puck toward the blue line attempting to get it out of the zone. But the puck went right to an Eveleth player standing right in front of the net on the right side. She quickly shot it past Dobosenski to give Eveleth a two goal lead. It was the Golden Bears' first shot since their earlier goal. Eveleth dominated the second half of the period, and it ended with the Wildcats holding just a 14-13 edge in shots on goal.
Eveleth completely dominated the second period, outshooting the Wildcats 10-3. They also scored again at the 9:33 mark to go up 3-0. The Wildcats got some hope when Eveleth's only penalty of the game was called with 2:53 left in the period. But the referees called a weak penalty on the Wildcats just 30 seconds later to negate the power play advantage, and the period ended with the Golden Bears leading 3-0.
The Wildcats continued to struggle offensively as they went into the third period. They started to play with a sense of urgency halfway through the period. They got a spark and a glimpse of the future with 5:55 left in the game. Sophomore Miranda Krumm passed the puck to freshman Rehanna Duncan in the Wildcat zone. Duncan took off down the right side of the ice. She snapped off a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle that zipped over the goalie's shoulder into the upper right corner of the net to cut the Eveleth lead to 3-1. It was Duncan's first varsity goal.
After Duncan's goal, the Wildcats really started to dominate play. For the next two minutes, they had the Golden Bears back on their heels and it looked like they had a good chance to tie the game. But the referees, who had been letting them play all night, called an interference penalty on the Wildcats with 3:52 left in the period. The wind went out of the Wildcat sails right then. Dobosenski gave the Wildcats some hope with an incredible save on a point blank shot with 3:28 remaining.
The Wildcats killed off the rest of the penalty, but under two minutes were left in the game. Dobosenski was pulled for an extra attacker with 1:30 left. The Golden Bears scored an empty-netter with 39.7 second remaining, sealing a 4-1 win and sending a disappointed bunch of Wildcat players, coaches and fans back to Lindstrom.
It was one thing for the referees to allow a very physical game. But the disparity in the number of penalties called on each team was even more frustrating for Wildcat head coach Jason Mahlen. "We had five penalties called on us and they had one," he said. "I don't understand it. Two times our players got thrown down in the slot and nothing was called. Of course, we had some good scoring chances in the first period and didn't take advantage of them. We had rebounds sitting in the crease and no one to knock it home. Eveleth basically had three good scoring chances the whole game and took advantage of all three. I tip my hat to them."
Mahlen then talked about the player who got the Wildcats on the board in the third period, Rehanna Duncan. He said "Early in the season, Rehanna wasn't pushing for varsity time as she was trying to find her hands. But she got better as the season went along. In this game, she scored on a nice wrist shot to give our team a boost. It was nice to see her perform as a ninth grader. She has three years left to develop as a high school player and is very coachable. She's going to help us out a lot over the next three years."