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Girls win championship at Faribault Invitational

The New Richmond girls hockey team faced three Minnesota opponents and beat them all to win the championship of the 2004 Faribault Girls Hockey Invitational.

The Tigers started the tournament by rolling over a weak Northfield team, 11-0. The competition then got much tougher.

Facing the strong host team from Faribault, the Tigers trailed 1-0 after two periods. Then Steph Kendrick scored twice in the third period, the second a short-handed goal with 4:23 left in regulation, to give the Tigers a 2-1 win.

In the final round of the tournament, the Tigers faced another tough opponent in Mankato. The Tigers scored twice in the first period, then again 2:12 into the second period to take a 3-0 lead. A huge defensive effort made those goals stand up, as the Tigers beat Mankato 3-1 to win the tournament title.

"I consider this a major step in our development for this season," said Tiger coach Steve Gehr. The Tigers raised their season record to 6-4 with the three wins in the tournament.

Against Mankato, the Tigers jumped ahead quickly. The Tigers scored first, 3:57 into the game. Ashlyne Anderson got the puck back to Erin Dodor at the point, and Dodor drilled a shot through traffic for the opening goal of the game.

Gehr has been after senior Kim Musta to play more aggressively and Musta answered that call with a critical individual effort. Musta won a race to a loose puck at neutral ice. She then skated around a Mankato defender, tucking the puck in the upper corner of the Mankato goal, putting the Tigers ahead 2-0 5:09 into the game.

"It was one of the nicest goals I've seen this year," Gehr said.

The Tigers made the lead 3-0 when Kendrick scored 2:12 into the second period. From there the Tigers held up in what became a physical battle. Gehr said he was pleased with how the girls stood up for each other when the game got physical in the third period.

The Tigers were whistled for six penalties in this game. For the tournament the Tigers were called for 20 penalties, and they killed off all 20 without giving a goal. For the season, the Tigers are 41 of 45 at killing penalties.

Gehr said the defensive execution against Mankato was a huge improvement. The Tigers were outshot 27-21 in the game, but Tigers did a good job on breakouts, preventing Mankato from having the puck for extended periods in the Tigers' zone.

The game against Faribault started like it wasn't going to end in the Tigers' favor. They were outshot 13-3 in the first period, giving up a goal with just over two minutes left in the period.

Between periods the Tigers seemed to find their energy. Playing the 17-minute mandatory periods in Minnesota tested the Tigers' endurance. Neither team scored in an evenly played second period.

Kendrick tied the game 1:42 into the third period, scoring off a feed from Julie McClelland.

Kendrick struck again with 4:23 left in the game. Taking the puck in alone, she decked the Faribault goalie, then tucked the puck into the net for the short-handed goal.

"They won this game on guts," Coach Gehr said. "They refused to quit."

Faribault outshot the Tigers 33-16, but Gehr's play in goal kept the Tigers alive.

"Molly had a big, big game. She made some incredible saves," Coach Gehr said.

In the opening game the Tigers were devastating against the overmatched Northfield team. The Tigers scored six goals in the opening period. Natalie Olbrantz scored three minutes into the game, and that started a wave of goals. Rachel Poppy, Anderson, Kendrick, Val Poppy and Hannah Haffner scored in the first period.

Haffner and Dodor added second period goals and Rachel Poppy, Olbrantz and Hannah Dove scored in the third period.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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