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Hayward ends New Richmond girls hockey season with crushing finality

After playing an overtime game against Eau Claire last Tuesday, the New Richmond girls hockey team had high hopes for its WIAA playoff opener at Hayward last Thursday.

Hayward ended the Tigers' season with a numbing 12-0 defeat. The Tigers finish the season with a 4-15 record.

The Tigers finished the season playing some of their best hockey, discounting the Hayward debacle. The Tigers took a solid Eau Claire team to overtime before losing 3-2 last Tuesday. The night before, they put up a good fight against Chippewa Falls/Menomonie, losing 3-1.

Emilee Wolf scored the only goal against Chippewa Falls, her team-high ninth goal of the season.

The Eau Claire game showed the Tigers were still hungry. Junior Alli Wielinski was called on to be an emergency goaltender for the game. With her team rallying around her, Wielinski was able to stop 22 of the 25 shots she faced.

"She was a wee bit nervous, but she did a great job keeping the puck in front of her," said Tiger coach Emily Dabrowski.

The Tiger defensemen played their hearts out in front of Wielinski. Led by senior Tiffany Olek, the Tigers blocked numerous Eau Claire shots. The forwards also got into the act, getting back to give strong support in the defensive zone.

Eau Claire scored the only goal of the first period. Ashley Dusek scored both of the Tigers' goals, one in the second period and one in the third. Emma Lepper and Shelby Rolland assisted on one goal and Meghan Wolner assisted on the other.

"We lost, but the girls can be proud of that game," Dabrowski said. "They got confidence they could do good things when they work together. They wanted to bring that to Hayward."

The high hopes evaporated quickly when Hayward's first four shots on goal all went into the net.

The Tigers gave up two goals in the second period. That's noteworthy because the Tigers had to kill off 10 minutes of penalties during the period. Dabrowski said the best part of the Tigers' performance Thursday was the penalty killing effort, but it came at a toll. It left the Tigers, especially the defensemen, gassed for the third period.

This was a snake-bit season for the Tigers, who ended the season with 11 healthy skaters.

"We were definitely dealt a difficult hand," Dabrowski said. "It was the hardest year we've had for injuries."

There will be significant losses to the team due to graduation. Olek, Wolf, Rolland, Baily Lund and Siera Myer all played significant roles for the team.