Presented a golden opportunity to tighten up the Suburban East Conference race, the Stillwater girls’ hockey team was unable to hold its second-period lead as Mounds View rallied for a 4-3 victory on Tuesday at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The Ponies (3-2-0 SEC, 4-4-1) led 3-1 in the second period before Mounds View scored three times during a five-minute stretch to take control of the game and the conference lead. The Mustangs (5-0-0, 9-0-0) currently hold a one-point lead over second-place Hastings (4-0-1, 7-0-2) and third-place Cretin-Derham Hall (4-1-0, 6-2-0) while the Ponies, Roseville (3-2-0, 5-2-0) and East Ridge (3-2-0, 3-6-0) remain tied in fourth place.
The setback snapped a three-game winning streak for the Ponies, who fell to 1-3-1 this season in games decided by one goal or less.
“It’s a tough loss in the conference,” Stillwater coach Tony Scheid said. “You hope to have a better start than 4-4-1, but I think we’ll turn the corner and I really have a good, strong feeling about this team. The conference is really level. Hopefully we keep getting better.”
The Ponies jumped in front 3-1 after Hannah Okerstrom’s goal at 7:39 of the second period, but the Mustangs — who swept Stillwater in conference play a year ago — answered with goals by Bella Sutton, Bailey Thompson and Sydney Brodt late in the second period to grab a 4-3 advantage.
“It was a really bad six minutes,” Scheid said. “Their top line is really good and we gave them way too much zone time and didn’t get pucks out. That’s one of the top lines in the state for sure and they made us pay.
“I think, if anything, we can learn is you have to come to play for three full periods, not two-and-a-half. The other big thing is that we’re not going to win consistently if we’re giving up four goals a game. If you’re going to win, that’s got to come down to two goals per game.”
Stillwater outshot the Mustangs 33-24, including 14-4 in the third period, but were unable to even the score. Sara Bustad came in on a rush with about three minutes remaining, but Mounds View goaltender Mary Dingman stopped that attempt and thwarted a rebound chance by Okerstrom.
“I thought it was in the net, but it was definitely a great save and the play of the day for their goalie,” Scheid said. “I thought we were going to tie the game right there. We had all kinds of pucks to the net in the third period so the girls didn’t give up.”
Dana Milan and Jane Vezina scored less than a minute apart midway through the first period as Stillwater jumped out to a 2-0 lead — strong start against a team that has allowed more than one goal in just one other game all season.
Brodt scored the first of her two goals in the opening minute of the second period as the Mustangs climbed within 2-1 before Okerstrom’s team-leading 10th goal.
“It’s definitely a work in progress and our lines are not set,” Scheid said. “We’re still trying to find the right combinations.”
n The Stillwater girls’ hockey program is hosting Fan Appreciation and Youth Jersey Day on Saturday, Dec. 22 when the Ponies host rival Roseville at 3 p.m. (JV game starts at 1 p.m.). All youth hockey players wearing their jersey will be admitted free and there will also be raffle prizes drawn between periods during each game.
There is also a free chuck-a-puck game for guess with gift certificate prizes from local merchants awarded (will supplies last). Coffee and cookies will also be served during the game, with a special VIP section for grandparents where servers will take orders and deliver them.
Mounds View 0 4 0 — 4
Stillwater 2 1 0 — 3
First period — 1. St, Dana Milan (Ali Biagini, Hannah Heacox) 7:22; 2. St, Jane Vezina (Hannah Okerstrom) 8:12.
Second period — 1. MV, Sydney Brodt (Bella Sutton, Lauren Klein) :35; 3. St, Okerstrom (Sara Bustad) 7:39; 2. MV, Sutton (unassisted) 10:35; 3. MV, Bailey Thompson (Eli Marvin) 13:18; 4. MV, Brodt (Klein) 15:23.
Third period — No scoring.
Penalties — MV, 5-10:00; St, 2-4:00.
Saves — MV (Mary Dingman) 7-9-14—30; St (Briann Hersom) 8-8-x—16 and (Allison Pasiuk) x-x-4—4.