The Stillwater girls’ hockey team broke open a tight game with five goals in the last seven minutes of the third period on Saturday to pull away for a 7-0 Suburban East Conference victory over Hastings at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The Ponies (7-3-0 SEC, 9-7-1), who lost to Hastings in overtime earlier this season, remained tied with Roseville (7-2-0, 11-4-0) for second in the conference standings behind fifth-ranked Mounds View (8-0-1, 15-0-1).
In addition to the balanced scoring, led by Hannah Okerstrom with two goals, the Ponies received 20 saves from Allison Pasiuk as she notched her second shutout of the season — with most coming before the lead expanded late in the third.
“Hastings was a very good team and that score doesn’t really indicate how tight the game was for the most part,” Stillwater coach Tony Scheid said. “I could see them in the state tournament. I don’t think Saturday was their day, but they played quite well up until late.
“We had some key saves from Allie Pasiuk where they could have made it a one-goal game in the third period. She had an excellent game and she picked us up every time we made a mistake.”
Okerstrom scored midway through the first period on an assist from Dana Almquist, who was cleared to return just prior to the game after missing some time with a concussion. Sara Bustad increased the lead to 2-0 at 12:29 of the second period on a pass from defenseman Katie Casto. The Ponies outshot Hastings 17-7 in the second period and 38-20 in the game.
“Hannah is having a career year and Bustad and (Hannah) Heacox have been leading the way on our top line,” Scheid said. “That top line is really playing well and the whole team is.”
The Ponies maintained that two-goal lead until Okerstrom scored a short-handed goal on an assist by Brinna Dochniak at 10:17 of the third period. That sparked a scoring outburst by Stillwater that included goals by Carlie Hart (12:23), Sierra Smith (12:43), Katie Casto (13:52) and Olivia Arkell (16:57), who notched the first goal of her varsity career.
“Casto had her best game of the season as a defenseman, she got a lot of pucks to the net,” Scheid said. “She’s a senior leader and somebody we’re really looking to down the stretch to lead our team.”
Since losing its conference opener to Hastings, the Ponies have seven of nine league games, with their only losses coming against fifth-ranked Mounds View and sixth-ranked Roseville. Scheid said the team is optimistic it can finish strong the second half of the season.
“If someone told me we’d have seven losses at this point of the season I would have told them I didn’t think so, but we think our best days are ahead of us and we have a lot of bounces saved up,” the coach said. “Not a lot has gone right as far as injury and illness, but it looks bright down the stretch for us.”
n Also on Saturday, Caitlin Carter recorded a shutout to help lead the Stillwater JV team to a 4-0 victory over the Raiders. The Ponies improved to 14-1-1 on the season.
Hastings 0 0 0 — 0
Stillwater 1 1 5 — 7
First period — 1. St, Hannah Okerstrom (Dana Almquist) 8:16.
Second period — 2. St, Sara Bustad (Katie Casto) 12:29.
Third period — 3. St, Okerstrom (Brinna Dochniak) sh, 10:14; 4. St, Carlie Hart (unassisted) 12:23; 5. St, Sierra Smith (unassisted) 12:43; 6. Casto (Georgia Eger) 13:52; 7. Olivia Arkell (Alex Sonnek, Kourtney Jancze) 16:57.
Penalties — Has, 1-2:00; St, 1-2:00.
Saves — Has (Brooke Weber) 9-16-5—30 and (Madi True) x-x-1—1; St (Allison Pasiuk) 6-7-7—20.