Playing for third place in the Eastern Shores Conference Tournament held at the Mullett Center at Arrowhead High School in Hartland., the Bay Area Ice Bears defeated the University School co-op girls’ hockey team 3-0 on Saturday, February 4th.
In past years, the two conference rivals contended for first place in the conference tournament. Not this year. Their spirited rivalry still held. Saturday’s game was a battle. The Ice Bears out shot the Wildcats 33-17 and scored a goal in each period to win the latest confrontation between the two teams.
“I thought we played well,” said Jake Haury, USM’s head coach. “We had penalties that kept interrupting our flow. We killed four of those five penalties. But I have to hand it to Bay Area. They did a good job defensively and got the goals they needed to win. The season is getting short, but we’ll keep working. We may face Bay Area again in the playoffs. We’ll work on ways to stop them and get pucks past Ana Holzbach, their goalie. She’s shutout us twice. We need to score more against all the teams we face the rest of the season, starting with Onalaska next Friday.”
An early penalty called on the Wildcats led to the Ice Bears’ first goal. As the Ice Bears controlled the puck in the Wildcats’ zone, it went to Megan Saari in the right circle. She passed it to Mia Dunning at the left point. Dunning fired a low wrist shot at Marie Dedert, the Wildcats’ goaltender. Allie Harter tipped it. As she did, she was knocked down. Prone on the ice, Harter still had the wherewithal to play the rebound. Like a pastry chef frosting a layer cake, she swept her stick like a spatula at the puck, smoothing it into the net at 3:45.
Bay Area held the slim lead through the remainder of the first period and for a good portion of the second. At 9:35 the Ice Bears increased their lead to 2-0. Coming onto the ice on a change, Johanna Cano got a loose puck near the Wildcats’ blue line and passed it back through center ice to Dunning. Dunning moved to the left and skated along the boards into the Wildcats’ zone. She avoided a sweep check then fended off another checker. Her momentum took her to the top of the left circle. From there she bulleted a shot over Dedert’s shoulder for the goal.
The Wildcats kept working to solve the sturdy Bay Area defense and Holzbach’s steady work between the pipes. To no avail. As the clock ticked off the seconds in the third period, Haury called a time out and pulled Dedert for an extra skater with a minute and half left. Bay Area’s Jordy Kadrlik spoiled the Wildcats’ efforts. She intercepted a breakout pass near the Wildcats’ blue line and dished the puck to Olivia Newman. Newman scored an empty net goal to ice the game for the Ice Bears, who captured third place in the conference tournament.
Bay Area is now 17-3-3 and ended at 7-2 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Ice Bears conclude the regular season on Saturday February 11th against the Metro Lynx in Madison. The loss left USM with a .500 overall record. The Wildcats are now 11-11-1 and finished the conference season at 4-5. The Wildcats hope to conclude the regular season with a winning record. To do so, they must defeat their next opponent, Onalaska, in a non-conference game at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 10th at USM.