Hoping to build some momentum for section play, the Stillwater girls’ hockey team jumped on White Bear Lake early and rolled to a 7-1 Suburban East Conference victory in Saturday’s regular season finale at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.
The victory locked up sole possession of third place in the conference for the Ponies (12-6-0 SEC, 14-10-1), who finished eight points behind league champion Mounds View (15-1-2, 22-1-2) and three points behind runner-up Roseville (13-4-1, 17-7-1).
Stillwater has received the No. 3 seed for the Section 4AA tournament and will host sixth-seeded Tartan (13-11-1) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
“Right now it’s win or go home,” Ponies coach Tony Scheid said. “Just looking at the section, we feel really good about our team and looking forward to section play. We think we’re playing our best hockey right now, for sure.”
The Ponies scored four times in the first period and remained in control throughout, holding a 38-13 advantage in shots on goal.
“It was a good day,” Scheid said. “It was senior day and it was nice to see the seniors go out on a high note. I thought all of the seniors played well. It was good to jump out right away. We got off to a fast start, everything went our way and we never looked back. It was a good game heading into Saturday’s game and it was a good way to finish the regular season and secure third place in the conference all alone.”
Sara Bustad scored Stillwater’s first two goals on assists by Hannah Okerstrom and Taylor Naugle increased the margin to 3-0 on an assist by Bustad. After the Bears broke through with a goal, Hannah Heacox scored the first of Stillwater’s three power play goals to provide a 4-1 lead.
“Okerstrom and Bustad came out strong out of the gates and I think the whole team kind of followed,” Scheid said. “We got a lot of strong play on the blue line from (Dana) Almquist and (Katie) Casto. The senior core group is leading the way and doing a really nice job.”
Carlie Hart extended Stillwater’s lead with a second-period tally while Okerstrom and Georgia Eger contributed power play goals in the third to complete the scoring.
“I think we came out with a lot of energy and purpose and got pucks to the net right away,” Scheid said. “We came out hungry and played one of our best games of the season. Things are starting to click on all cylinders and we feel good heading into the playoffs.
l Also on Saturday, the Stillwater JV team put the finishing touches on a 22-1-1 season while blanking the Bears 5-0. Caitlin Carter made 11 saves to record the shutout while Casey Bartelings notched a hat trick. Lauren Greeder and Kate Bartelings added a goal each for the Ponies, who held a 46-11 advantage in shots on goal.
“The JV had a great season and it was nice to see them end with a strong game,” Scheid said. “They were undefeated in conference play as well, which is a big plus.”
White Bear Lake 1 0 0 — 1
Stillwater 4 1 2 — 7
First period — 1. St, Sara Bustad (Hannah Okerstrom) NA; 2. St, Bustad (Okerstrom) pp, NA; 3. St, Taylor Naugle (Bustad) NA; 1. WBL, Kristi Longendyke (Madison Miller, McKayla Duvick) pp, NA; 4. St, Hannah Heacox (Samantha Scheid) pp, NA.
Second period — 5. St, Carlie Hart (Jane Vezina, Kourtney Jancze) NA.
Third period — 6. St, Okerstrom (unassisted) pp, NA; 7. St, Georgia Eger (Brinna Dochniak) pp, 7:52.
Penalties — WBL, 7-14:00; St, 6-12:00.
Saves — WBL (NA) 6-19-6—31; St (Allison Pasiuk) 5-x-x—5 and (Brianna Hersom) x-3-4—7.