Playing in a new position is not always easy, but Rachel Hoge made it look that way. Jake Haury, head coach of the University School co-op girls’ hockey team, switched Hoge to forward, and she sparked the Wildcats to a 4-1 victory over Brookfield to win the Girls Hockey Classic Tournament on Saturday, December 10th at USM.
Hoge scored the Wildcats’ first two goals and assisted on their third as the Wildcats came from behind to win the Eastern Shores Conference contest.
Hoge said, “At first when Coach Jake asked me to play forward, I was really nervous, but that went away immediately after my first shift. I was excited for every shift, and Karly (Lamoreaux) and Abby (Hentzen) were great line mates. They were supportive and answered all the questions I had. I was pretty surprised that I scored twice today because normally I'm lost at forward. I saw the opportunities and was able to capitalize.”
Hoge chuckled as she saw the opportunity for a pun and added, “I loved playing forward, and I'm looking forward to any future opportunities to play offense again.”
The game’s first four goals were scored on power plays. The Glacier opened the scoring early in the first period. As the Glacier players moved the puck around the Wildcats’ zone, Kayleigh Schmor intercepted a clearing pass at the left point. Schmor skated into the slot and fired a rising shot that found its way through a screen and past the Wildcats’ goaltender Marie Dedert just 4:14 into the game. Caroline Forsmo was awarded an assist on the play.
Haury commented on the goal, “I told the girls they have to move people out from in front to give our goalie the chance to see it. If Marie can the shot, she’ll stop it.”
Brookfield’s lead did not last long. The Wildcats’ soon had a power play, and they made the most of it. Off a faceoff in the Glacier’s left corner, the puck went to Delaney Weiss at the center of the blue line. Weiss passed it to Hoge on the left boards. Hoge tapped it to Lamoreaux who quickly returned it. Hoge skated down the boards. From the hash marks, she turned into the circle then rifled a shot past Brookfield’s goalie, Grace Elliot, to tie the game at 1-1 at 6:48.
The Wildcats went ahead later in the first period while on another power play. Abby Hentzen gained the puck on the boards in center ice and passed it to Hannah Gold, who was skating past on her way to the Brookfield zone. Gold deftly stickhandled around several defenders as she moved down the slot. She blasted a shot that hit the left goalpost and dropped to the ice. On came Hoge. With a blessed trinity of shots, one, two, three, she pushed it at the net. She successfully swatted the third between Elliot and the pipe for the goal at 9:52.
Midway through the second period, the Wildcats’ third power play resulted in their third goal. In the Brookfield zone, Gaby Turer skated the puck into the high slot then slipped a pass to Michaela Fritz at the right point. Fritz bulleted a shot toward the net. It hit Hoge’s stick, then the stick of Hannah Neudorfer, then bounced past Elliot at 10:56.
The Wildcats scored the game’s only even-strength goal early in the third period. Skating out of the Wildcats’ zone, Lexie Epperson feathered a pass between two Glacier players to her line mate Neudorfer, who was speeding like a gazelle through center ice. Neudorfer raced in on a breakaway. From the edge of the Brookfield crease, she took a shot. Elliot stopped it, but Turer was following the play, and she jammed the rebound into the net at 4:36.
The tournament victory improved USM’s record to 5-3-1 and 1-1 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Wildcats willing be working for another win when they play Beaver Dam in an Eastern Shores Conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 13th at USM.