In the Gobbler Cup, a tournament between the four teams that have won the last four girls’ hockey state championships, the competition is always fierce. The teams know they are facing opponents they may see in Madison in March.
So, after a dismal showing Friday in the opening round of the early-season tournament, the Wildcats of the University School co-op team knew they had something to prove in the consolation game of the Gobbler Cup tournament. They quickly revived their hockey skills, played with purposeful intent, and defeated the Hayward co-op, 5-1 in the tournament’s consolation game on Saturday, November 24th at the Mosinee Recreation Center in Mosinee.
Dan Carey, USM’s head coach, said, “We had a much better effort level today. The girls focused on giving their best effort, and it showed. It was a nice recovery from Friday's game.”
After being shut out by the Central Wisconsin Storm on Friday, the Wildcats wasted no time scoring on Saturday. They capitalized on their efforts and scored their first goal just 17 seconds into their non-conference contest against the Hurricanes.
From the opening faceoff, Gaby Turer got the puck and skated it down the left boards into the Hayward’s zone. She cut across the circle into the slot and fired a low shot at Emma Quimby, the Hurricanes’ goalie. During a mad scramble for the rebound in the crease, Makinzie Youngblood smacked the puck across the goal line to give the Wildcats a quick 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats kept at it. They took 20 of their 39 shots during the first period and scored two more late in the period.
During an aggressive forecheck by the Wildcats, Layne Diffley got the puck behind the net then passed it out to Jenna Klenz at the top of the left circle. Klenz took it and skated across into the high slot. She fired a backhander toward the net. Quimby was screened on the play, and the puck flew past her at 14:03.
Youngblood scored her second goal on a penalty shot at 15:44. She was pulled down on a breakaway and awarded the free attempt. She described what happened on her bar down shot from the circle, “When I was going in originally, I was just hoping to create a rebound and was happily surprised when they called a penalty shot. I was kind of tired coming back to the bench, but when Coach Carey pointed at me to say I was going take the shot, I was like, ‘Okay, Kinzie, it’s okay if you don’t score, but please don’t miss the net.’ So I went into it with some confidence and just ready to shoot. When it hit the bar, I was thinking it would miss, but then they pointed at the net and called it a goal. I was so excited because I knew that goal really brought us into a comfortable lead.”
The Hurricanes rallied a bit in the second period and outshot the Wildcats 7-6, but the Wildcats’ goaltender, Sami Stommel, who made 17 saves in the game, stopped all seven shots on her in the period. Quimby stopped the Wildcats’ six shots at the other end of the ice.
The Hurricanes scored the first goal of the third period. Kennedy Sprenger chased down a loose puck in the Wildcats’ right corner. She passed it along the boards to defenseman Soile Doyle at the point. Doyle moved to the top of the circle and fired a low shot on net. The puck hit a defender’s foot and sprang to Sprenger, who had moved in front of the net. She knocked it past Stommel at 4:40.
The Hayward goal did not diminish the Wildcats’ determination. They responded with added effort and scored their fourth goal a few minutes later. After Stommel had made a save, Klenz pulled the puck from the goaltender’s pads and began to skate up ice. She spotted Jordan Bonk speeding down the right wing and fed her a pass. Like a falcon spotting her prey, Bonk accelerated and flew past the defensemen. As she swooped toward the goal, she fired a shot toward the far post. It beat Quimby at 8:13 of the period.
The Wildcats scored their fifth goal at 14:03. Michaela Fritz took a shot from the point. The rebound caromed off Quimby’s pads to Bonk in front of the net. Bonk slipped a backhand pass to Turer who was skating out front from the corner. Turer rapidly fired a backhand shot into the net to finalize the scoring and send the Wildcats back to Milwaukee happy.
After the game, Fritz, one of USM’s captains, said, “It was a large improvement from our past game. We caught passes, had our heads up, and kept our feet moving. The scoreboard accurately portrayed the team’s effort in this game.”
Hayward’s record fell to 1-2. The Hurricanes host the North Shore Storm of International Falls, Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 29th at the Hayward Ice Arena.
USM is now 2-1 and 0-0 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Wildcats begin play in the Eastern Shores Conference when they face off against the Brookfield Glacier at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27th at USM.