Despite being outshot 33-14, the University School co-op girls’ hockey team pulled out a 4-2 victory over the Fox Cities Stars in an Eastern Shores Conference game on Thursday, January 5th at the Tri-County Ice Arena in Neenah.
With the win, the Wildcats pulled into a second place tie in the conference with Fond du Lac. But it sure wasn’t easy. The Wildcats’ goaltender, Marie Dedert kept her team in the game. The sophomore cooly turned aside all but two of the Stars’ shots. The Stars looked like they had set up a shooting clinic in the second period, when they outshot the Wildcats 13-2. Dedert stopped all 13. She stopped 13 more in the third period, allowing her team to head back home with a win.
“Marie did an excellent job tonight,” said Jacob Haury, USM’s head coach. “We did not play our best game tonight by a long shot, and Fox Cities played really well against us, once of the best games an opponent has had against us this season. We did not pay attention to details. I told the girls between the second and third period that we needed to focus on our positioning, on winning battles for the puck, and on shooting. We did better in the third period, but it’s good Marie was playing her A-game tonight, especially in the second period. She was the player of the game.”
The Wildcats’ first shot on goal made it past freshman Annaliese Mauel, the Stars’ goalie. After the Wildcats spent the first minute of the game chasing after Stars in the Wildcats’ zone, sophomore Hannah Neudorfer took a breakout pass low on the right boards and chipped the puck past the Stars’ defenseman. Neudorfer chased after it as it entered the Fox Cities’ end. She battled for it in the right corner, where she was joined by sophomores Lexie Epperson and Megan McPike. McPike pulled the puck away then pushed it to Epperson, who passed it out to sophomore defenseman Michaela Fritz in the slot. Fritz’s shot was sure. It went into the net at 1:18.
Fritz described the play, “Lexie came around behind the net, and I saw the most prime opening. I snuck in behind the defensive team to the opposite side of the goal around the hash marks. I quickly sniped a shot, and it went in between the goalie's skate and the right post.”
The Stars tied it up at 14:26. Battling for the puck with two USM defenders along the left mid-boards, sophomore Lauryn Hull fell to the ice, but rapidly got back to her feet and won the puck. She skated around the top of the near circle. From the high slot she fired a bar down shot into the Wildcats’ net.
The Wildcats took the lead again in the final minute of the first period with a power play goal. They got the puck deep into the Fox Cities’ zone. Neudorfer pulled the puck from a scrum behind the net, skated to the left corner, and passed it to the near point to junior defenseman Hannah Gold. Gold immediately passed it across the blue line to senior Delaney Weiss. Weiss lined a shot toward the net. The puck hit a defender’s stick and careened to the slot. McPike was there. She gathered up the puck like a gold miner finding a shiny nugget. She saw an opening and zipped a shot past Mauel at 16:05.
There was no scoring in the second period. The Wildcats had zero opportunities for a goal. The Stars moved around the Wildcats’ zone like traffic on a freeway. Thanks to Dedert’s efforts, however, they were unable to park the puck in the Wildcats’ net.
The Wildcats’ lead was shaky as the teams entered the third period, but the Wildcats were able to establish a firmer hold on that lead early in third period. Forechecking in the Stars’ end, Neudorfer got the puck and fired a shot at Mauel. The rebound skipped to the left corner. McPike corralled it and passed it toward the crease to Epperson. Epperson, in turn, pushed it out to the low slot to Neudorfer, who promptly pumped it in at 5:54.
The Stars moved closer with a power play goal at 9:10. As they moved the puck around the Wildcats’ zone, it deflected to Hull on the left mid-boards. She skated across the circle and fired a shot. Dedert stopped it. The rebound fell to the goalie’s right. The Stars’ freshman Madelynn Jablonski was on the doorstep like a morning newspaper, and she shoved it into the net making the score 3-2.
The Wildcats scored the game’s final goal on a fine individual effort by sophomore Karly Lamoreaux. In the Wildcats’ end, Gold sent a breakout pass along the right boards. Lamoreaux pushed it away from a defender then raced past the defender for it. She sped into the Stars’ zone and moved into the right circle. Without hesitating, she fired a shot that past Mauel at 11:45.
The Stars kept up their efforts to tie the score, but the Wildcats had heeded their coach’s advice. They tightened their defensive positioning, withstood a six-on-five last minute effort, and cinched the victory.
USM is 9-4-1 and 4-1 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Wildcats hope they have good luck and play better hockey in their next game. It’ll be Friday, the 13th of January. They’ll take on Hudson in a non-conference game at 6:00 p.m. that evening at USM.