Three special teams goals helped Cloquet-Esko-Carlton play Stillwater to a 3-all tie in Saturday’s nonconference girls’ hockey game at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The Ponies (1-0-1) jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period and never trailed, but C-E-C used two power play goals and a short-handed tally — all from Emily Gustafson — to salvage a tie.
“Saturday sounds like a loss because the kids worked so hard,” Stillwater coach Tony Scheid said. “This is a team that comes to the rink and expects to win. I think we can learn from some of the things.”
Dana Almquist scored on the power play at 13:20 of the first period and Hannah Heacox added a goal less than three minutes later on assists by Hannah Okerstrom and Samantha Scheid for a 2-0 lead. Stillwater outshot the Lumberjacks 19-2 in the first period and a staggering 53-18 in the game.
Gustafson scored the first of her three goals on the power play three minutes into the second period. Sara Bustad answered with a power play goal at 6:44 on an assist by Almquist for a 3-1 Stillwater lead.
“I thought we played really well,” Scheid said. “We played hard and the effort was there and the attitude was there, but in this game and the Blaine game we had a little bit of a letdown in the second period. I don’t think they consciously let down, but they took the foot off the gas. We’re not clicking on all cylinders yet, but I think it’s coming and we’re just looking for a more consistent three-period effort. The first and third period we really stormed them.”
Gustafson scored another power play goal midway through the second period and added an unassisted tally at 5:31 of the third period to tie the game at 3-all.
“We’ve only given up one five-on-five goal so the penalty kill and special teams needs some work,” Scheid said. “The first couple games are usually pretty raw with that, but we can fine tune that stuff pretty quick.”
Alyssa Acheson did her part to keep the Lumberjacks in the game while turning away 50 shots, including eight in the overtime period. Stillwater’s Allison Pasiuk finished with 15 saves, with two coming in the extra session.
“(Acheson) is outstanding and you have to give her a lot of credit,” Scheid said. “She made a lot of great saves and stood in there. She’s a game-changer right there and I was really impressed with Cloquet’s team play. That’s a team I expect to see t the end of the year make a push for the state tournament.”
The Okerstrom-Heacox and Ali Biagini line has accounted for four of Stillwater’s six goals this season.
“Okerstrom has been one of our top forwards and she plays with a lot of abandon out there,” Sheid said. “She puts a lot of pressure on the other team with her speed and quickness and tenacity. She turns the puck over and makes things happen and (Heacox) is the same type of player, very hard working. I think Biagini is a good fit with those guys and that line is playing extremely well. Biagini is a really skilled player and they make a lot happen every shift up and down the ice.”
The coach has also been impressed with junior forward Jane Vezina and freshman sparkplug Lauren Greeder, a freshman who could play an even larger role going forward.
“I really like (Vezina’s) game for our team,” Scheid said. “She’s so consistent and gets pucks on the net offensively and is always pressuring the other team. I was just really impressed with (Greeder’s) awareness and I thought she changed the game for us a little offensively and made some key plays that almost put us in position to win the game.”
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 0 2 1 0 — 3
Stillwater 2 1 0 0 — 3
First period — 1. Dana Almquist (unassisted) pp, 13:20; 2. St, Hannah Heacox (Hannah Okerstrom, Samantha Scheid) 15:59.
Second period — 1. C-E-C, Emily Gustafson (Carly Esse, Kaitlyn Miller) pp, 2:46; 3. St, Sara Bustad (Almquist) pp, 6:44; 2. C-E-C, Gustafson (Esse, Miller) pp, 7:53.
Third period — 3. C-E-C, Gustafson (unassisted) sh, 5:31.
Overtime — No scoring.
Penalties — C-E-C, 6-12:00; St, 3-6:00.
Saves — C-E-C (Alyssa Acheson) 17-12-13-8—50; St (Allison Pasiuk) 2-6-5-2—15.