It was fitting that on Valentine's Day, the New Richmond girls hockey team put on a tremendous show of heart.
The Tiger girls upset Hudson in the opening round of WIAA tournament play in Hudson last Thursday, 2-1. The Tigers were the fifth seed in the section, with Hudson possessing the fourth seed.
With the win the Tigers advanced into the WIAA sectional semifinal game that was played on Tuesday, against the St. Croix Valley Fusion. The Fusion are the number one seed in the sectional and are undefeated this season.
The Tigers got the only goal of the first period in Thursday's win over Hudson. Tiger freshman Caitlynn Singerhouse scooped a puck that had gotten free because of an aggressive forecheck. She skated down the slot and cleanly beat Hudson goalie Alise Riedel with 8:51 left in the first period.
Hudson tied the score with 8:47 left in the second period. Hudson's Kristen Bendt got the puck behind the Tiger net and skated around the edge, tucking the puck inside the post.
Hudson's lead lasted less than a minute. Tiger sophomore Shelby Melby dumped the puck in from center ice to give the Tigers time to change lines. Her shot was on goal and appeared to catch Riedel by surprise, glancing off her skates and into the Hudson net for the final goal of the game.
Before the game, the coaches outlined three areas they wanted the Tigers to focus on. The first was forechecking. The second was positioning in the defensive zone. The third was making correct decisions with the puck. The Tigers excelled in all three.
The forecheck was so intense that Hudson rarely got the puck into the Tigers' end of the rink in the first period, outside of a power play. The Tigers always seemed to be in the right spot on defense, forcing Hudson to move the puck along the boards whenever the Raiders did manage to get the puck in the Tigers' end. And the Tigers had very few turnovers, one of their best efforts of the season in that area.
"They did a fantastic job on the forecheck," said Tiger coach Jake Hetzel. "They weren't necessarily doing everything correctly, but they were doing it 100 miles per hour."
Hudson was ranked ninth in the state at the time of the game.
This was one of two upsets in the sectional on Thursday night. Menomonie, the sixth seed, upset Eau Claire, the third seed, by a 3-2 score. This set up Tuesday's sectional semifinal game between Menomonie and Chippewa Falls.
The sectional championship game will be played this Saturday at the New Richmond Sports Center. The championship game is scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. The winner of Tuesday's game between New Richmond and the Fusion will face the winner of Tuesday's game between Chippewa Falls and Menomonie for the right to play in the 2008 WIAA Girls Hockey State Championships.
New Richmond 2, Hudson 1
First Period: 1. NR, Caitlynn Singerhouse (un) 8:09.
Second Period: 2. Hudson, Kristen Bendt (Alex Bernard) 8:13. 3. NR, Shelby Melby (un) 9:02.
Third Period: No scoring.
Saves: New Richmond (Elizabeth Nadeau) 18; Hudson (Alise Riedel) 15.