Two in a row. For the second time in two days, the Wildcats of the University School co-op girls’ hockey team scored an early power play goal then hung on to win a game, 1-0. Friday, in the Consolation Final of the Culvers’ Cup Tournament in Madison, it was sophomore Hannah Neudorfer’s goal that stood up and allowed the Wildcats to defeat Lakeland 1-0 in a non-conference game played at the Madison Ice Arena.
For the second straight day, sophomore goaltender, Marie Dedert, blanked a Wildcat foe. Dedert stopped all 16 shots that the Thunderbirds took on the Wildcats’ net to earn the shutout. Once again the Wildcats played excellent defense in front of their goalie, keeping the Thunderbird shooters away from the slot and clearing rebounds of the Lakeland shots that did make it to Dedert.
Junior Hannah Gold, one of USM’s captains, smiled as she commented on the game, “They’re a good team, but we outplayed them this game. One goal is all you need, doesn't have to be a high scoring game to bring home the W.”
From the drop of the puck, the Wildcats got right to work to secure that W. They outshot the Thunderbirds 12-5 in the first period, but senior Erin Sparks, Lakeland’s goalie, stopped all their attempts and the period ended in a scoreless tie.
At the start of the second period, Neudorfer gave the Wildcats the one number they needed for the win with her power play goal. From a faceoff in the Lakeland zone, sophomore Megan McPike drew the puck back to sophomore Libby Hennelly at the top of the circle. Hennelly passed it to her defense partner, sophomore Michaela Fritz, who was standing in the high slot. Fritz whizzed a shot at Sparks. The rebound dropped into the crease, as did Sparks. Sparks scrambled trying to grab the puck as both McPike and USM sophomore Lexie Epperson took swipes at it. Epperson’s shot rebounded beyond Sparks’ reach to the right circle. From there, Neudorfer nailed a shot it into the short side of the net at 1:18.
Neudorfer succinctly described the play, “Lexie shot the puck at the goal, and it bounced out about fifteen feet. I grabbed it and shot it past the goalie’s glove-hand side.”
For the remainder of the second period and the full third period, the teams from opposite sides of the state battled passionately but to no goal-scoring avail. The goaltending efforts at each end of the rink were enough to hold the fans’ interest. Sparks stopped 10 shots in the second period and 13 in the third, while Dedert turned aside 4 and 7 respectively.
As a consequence of the outcome, the Thunderbirds returned north to Minoqua with a 3-4-1 record. The Wildcats took home an 8-4-1 mark after winning two of three games in the tournament. The Wildcats will begin the New Year with another road game. They travel to the Tri-County Ice Arena in Neenah to face Eastern Shores Conference rival, the Fox Cities Stars, in a conference contest at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 5th.