Girls hockey: Fast start lifts Ponies over Tartan

Stillwater’s Taylor Naugle carries the puck up ice during Saturday’s Section 4AA quarterfinal girls’ hockey victory over Tartan at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center. (Gazette staff photos by Scott Ertle)

Stillwater’s Taylor Naugle carries the puck up ice during Saturday’s Section 4AA quarterfinal girls’ hockey victory over Tartan at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center. (Gazette staff photos by Scott Ertle)

The Stillwater girls’ hockey team took charge early and did not look back while dispatching Tartan 6-1 in Saturday’s Section 4AA quarterfinal game at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center.

Hannah Okerstrom scored just 41 seconds into the game to spark a four-goal opening period for the Ponies (15-10-1), who advance to face rival Roseville (18-7-1) in the semifinals on Tuesday at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood. The second semifinal on Tuesday features No. 1 seeded Hill-Murray vs. No. 4 Cretin-Derham Hall.

Stillwater’s Jane Vezina celebrates a first-period goal with defenseman Samantha Scheid, who provided the assist.

Stillwater’s Jane Vezina, left, celebrates a first-period goal with defenseman Samantha Scheid, right, who provided the assist.

Following Okerstrom’s lead, Jane Vezina, Hannah Heacox and Sierra Smith also scored in the first period for the Ponies, who outshot the Titans (13-12-1) 47-15 in the game.

“In the playoffs, anytime you can start with a goal in the first minute of the game it’s huge,” Stillwater coach Tony Scheid said. “Hannah Okerstrom has been doing that for us all year. That line with (Sara) Bustad, (Ali) Biagini and Okerstrom really got us going and that is really important to our team.”

Okerstrom scored on an assist by Dana Almquist in the opening minute and Vezina followed with a goal at 5:36 on an assist from Samantha Scheid. Heacox followed five minutes later while ripping a shot into the upper corner from the right side for a three-goal cushion.

“That was just a beautiful goal, the nicest goal of her career,” Scheid said. “She lasered a high, hard shot that beat the goalie.”

Six different Ponies collected a goal — 11 notched at least one point — and Smith was the next while scoring at 13:23 on assists by Carlie Hart and Kourtney Jancze.

“We have been a work in progress, but that’s been part of our formula is having and playing three lines,” Scheid said. “A lot of teams might ride one line a lot, but it has never been our formula. We’re kind of lining it up (for the postseason) and we’re going to need a three-line attack, which I think we have.”

Ali Biagini scored on the power play for Stillwater to build a 5-0 lead during a penalty filled second period. Hannah Croonquist scored Tartan’s only goal on the power play at 15:48 to spoil the shutout bid of Brianna Hersom, who finished with 14 saves. The Ponies tacked on another power play goal in the third as Sara Bustad scored in the final minute to complete the scoring.

“I just think it’s good to have the senior leadership we have on this team and that’s what we need in the playoffs,” Scheid said. “We’ve got so many high quality seniors in this lineup that it really gives us a great chance.”

 

Tartan 0 1 0 — 1

Stillwater 4 1 1 — 6

 

First period — 1. St, Hannah Okerstrom (Dana Almquist) :41; 2. Jane Vezina (Samantha Scheid) 5:36; 3. St, Hannah Heacox (Taylor Naugle) 10:43; 4. St, Sierra Smith (Carlie Hart, Kourtney Jancze) 13:23.

Second period — 5. Ali Biagini (Hart) pp, 10:16; 1. Tar, Hannah Croonquist (Jamie Jackson) pp, 15:48.

Third period — 6. St, Sara Bustad (Vezina, Okerstrom) pp, 16:31.

Penalties — Tar, 7-14:00; St, 5-10:00.

Saves — Tar (Maggie Straka) 14-6-x—20 and (Maddie Campbell) x-9-12—21; St (Brianna Hersom) 3-4-7—14.

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