ST. PAUL — The Stillwater girls’ hockey team rallied from a two-goal deficit to upend Cretin-Derham Hall 3-2 in Tuesday’s Suburban East Conference game at Charles M. Schultz – Highland Arena.
It was an important win for the Ponies (5-2-0 SEC, 6-4-1) against one of the five league teams currently ranked among the state’s top 20 by Let’s Play Hockey.
“It was a big win in the conference and a big win in the section,” Stillwater coach Tony Scheid said.
The Raiders (4-3, 6-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Hannah Forliti scored six minutes into the second period. Natalie Kelly scored a power play goal at 3:35 of the first period to for Cretin-Derham Hall’s first goal.
“We thought we were carrying the play, but couldn’t score and then gave up a power play goal and another at the end of a power play where we couldn’t clear the zone,” Scheid said. “Basically it was a power play goal.
“I really thought we carried the play most of the game, but they have a very good power play and we gave them too many opportunities. If you look at our team, when we don’t have success it all goes back to taking too many penalties and discipline and it almost cost us again (on Tuesday). That is something we have to shore up.”
It was Jane Vezina who finally broke the ice for the Ponies with a goal in the second period to close the deficit to 2-1. Vezina took a centering pass from Sierra Smith while charging in and drilled a shot past goaltender Emma May.
“She got off a hard shot and beat the goalie low to the glove side,” Scheid said. “It was a great shot to get us on the board and get us in the game in the second period.”
Stillwater continued applying pressure and broke through again as Hannah Okerstrom scored on assists by Ali Biagini and Sara Bustad to tie the game with less than three minutes remaining in the third. It was a determined effort by that line as Okerstrom knocked in a rebound.
“We kept battling and kept getting pressure and pucks to the net,” Scheid said. “We outshot them, but missed the net quite a bit, too. The tying goal was relentless effort by Okerstrom leading a forecheck with Bustad and Biagini. They drove the puck to the net and Okerstrom banged in a rebound. To me, that’s one of the biggest goals of the season right there.”
Overtime seemed improbable moments earlier and the Ponies avoided it altogether after defenseman Dana Almquist slipped a puck through traffic and into the net from the point with just 38 seconds remaining.
“Almquist has so much offense to her game and is really doing a great job for us offensively and defensively,” Scheid said. “(Katie) Casto also had an excellent game at D for us and the Bustad line with Okerstrom and Biagini did a great job. Vezina is one of our most consistent forwards game in and game out. She’s always playing the game the right way in the D zone and if our whole team could find her level of consistency we’d be hard to beat.”
Stillwater played without three players due to injury or illness and several of those in the lineup are also battling flu-like symptoms, which did sideline Carlie Hart. Lauren Greeder missed the game with a concussion following a check from behind in Saturday’s game against Park and Georgia Eger has issues with her quadriceps.
“The kids did a really good job of overcoming adversity with a lot of injuries and illness right now,” Scheid said. “It’s running through our team, we’re missing some players and we have some players in the lineup I know weren’t 100 percent.”
n Also on Tuesday, the Ponies improved to 10-0 with a 5-2 JV victory over the Raiders. Bailey Beane, Emma Arkell, Casey Bartelings, Alex Sonnek and Katie Erchul each provided a goal for Stillwater.
n The Ponies will host an Alumni vs. Alumni game on Friday from 4:30-5:30 p.m., on the Blizzard Rink at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
Stillwater 0 1 2 — 3
Cretin-Derham Hall 1 1 0 — 2
First period — 1. C-DH, Natalie Kelly (Rachel Seibel, Mackenzie Molnar) pp, 3:35.
Second period — 2. C-DH, Hannah Forliti (Caitlyn Russell) 6:16; 1. St, Jane Vezina (Sierra Smith) NA.
Third period — 2. St, Hannah Okerstrom (Ali Biagini, Sara Bustad) 14:22; 3. St, Dana Almquist (unassisted) 16:22.
Penalties — St, 5-10:00; C-DH, 3-6:00.
Saves — St (Allison Pasiuk) 8-9-6—23; C-DH (Emma May) 11-12-13—36.