Combine smothering defensive play with a smidge of timely, opportunistic scoring and that was a recipe for success in the Central Wisconsin Storm's 6-1 win over Wisconsin Valley Union Tuesday night at Ice Hawks Arena in the girls' WiPH Game of the Week in Stevens Point.
"I thought we did a good job on the forecheck," said Storm coach Pete Susens. "We were a little quicker up front than their defensemen and we took advantage of that."
The Storm scored twice in each period and they took a lead they wouldn't relinquish in the middle of the opening stanza.
Lauren Wincentsen grabbed a loose puck along the right boards, skated in deep and pitchforked a backhander over the left shoulder of WVU goalie Pistol Cowden for a 1-0 lead. Brenna Holtz earned a helper on the scoring play at the 7:19 mark of the period.
Three minutes later, the Storm had a 3-on-0 breakaway when the WVU defender slipped, but Cowden slid to her right to make a great pad save. The puck bounced right to Kassidy Oliva and she slid a pass to the slot, where it was banged into the net by Trinity Foster to make it 2-0, guests. The score came at 10:23 of the first.
The horn sounded with that same score. Cowden made 11 saves while Storm goalie Katrina Fredrickson stopped two shots.
It didn't take WVU long to cut into the lead, as they scored just over five minutes into the middle period. Speedy defenseman Shelby Tryba grabbed the puck in the neutral zone and took off up ice, gaining a slim advantage on a pair of Storm defenders. Her shot from the slot beat Fredrickson on the glove side to make it 2-1 on the unassisted tally.
The Storm went on the man-advantage with six-plus minutes left and were denied by Cowden on three point-blank chances. Shortly after the penalty expired, Maddux Federici took a pass from Oliva and scored from the right dot to give CW a 3-1 lead.
With just over a minute left in the period, Audrey Ladewig won a battle along the right boards and slid a pass into the slot, where lanky forward Kayla Piskula grabbed the puck and mishit it slightly, which might have affected the timing of the WVU goalie as the puck went through the five and into the net, giving the Storm a three-goal lead heading into the final stanza.
Fredrickson stopped one shot for the Storm, while the much busier Cowden had 13 saves.
All the scoring in the third period took place in the last 26 seconds of play, including an empty-netter by Oliva and Holly Wasmundt's score ten seconds later.
The horn sounded on a 6-1 Storm win. Fredrickson had three stops in the period for a game total of six, while freshman Chloe Lemke manned the crease for the last 3:25 of the period, but did not make a save.
Cowden had 14 saves in the period for a total of 38 in the contest.
"To get six goals against a goaltender like Cowden...well, she's very, very good but we kept bodies in front of her and scored a couple goals that way," said Susens. "She's an excellent goaltender, probably the best in the state."
Central WI improves to 3-0-1 and will face visiting Onalaska Saturday at Greenheck Fieldhouse.
WVU drops to 0-1 and will host the Warbirds on Thursday night at the Waupaca Expo Center.