Goaltender Sami Stommel withstood an aggressive attack by the Rock County Fury, gained a shutout, and helped the University School co-op girls’ hockey team win a fast-paced non-conference contest 4-0 on Saturday, December 1st at USM.
Thanks to the efforts of the game’s two freshmen goalies, Stommel and the Fury’s Olivia Cronin, the game remained scoreless until the last two minutes of the second period when the Wildcats broke through and then tallied four times in the remainder of the game. Stommel made 18 saves in the game, while Cronin made 16. Sophomore Emily Mueller led the Wildcat scoring with two goals. Seniors Gaby Turer and Kinzie Youngblood each scored one goal for the victors.
"Sami had some big saves tonight and kept us in the game early,” said Dan Carey, USM’s head coach. “It is great to see her settling in as our starting goalie."
The Rock County skaters lived up to their team’s name in the opening period. They skated fast and attacked the Wildcats furiously, constantly disrupting the home team’s poise and conduct on the ice. The Fury frequently used a quick breakout pass to a far wing who was bursting into center ice for the pass. The tactic got them into the Wildcats’ zone swiftly, and had it not been for Stommel’s granite-like composure in net, Rock County may well have taken the lead.
Throughout the contest, the Fury also went after the Wildcats puck carriers and battled for loose pucks. The consequence was penalties. Rock County was assessed with 10 minors in the game, which effectively cut into their ability to generate more scoring opportunities.
The Wildcats re-adjusted their game plan during the break after the first period, and they kept the Fury at bay during the following two periods. Eventually, they were also able to snap the scoreless tie on a goal by the collective efforts of their third line.
Mueller scored her first goal at 15:38 of the second period. She got the puck in the Wildcats zone, and skated out on a two-on-one break with her classmate, Layne Diffley. As they moved into the Fury’s zone, Mueller sent a horizontal pass toward Diffley. The puck missed its mark and skittered to the boards. Diffley retrieved it and passed it back to the point to sophomore Zoe Uihlein. Uihlein knocked it away from two Fury checkers, got it again, then sent a pass in to sophomore Zoe Neudorfer who had skated into the slot. As two Fury players attacked her, Neudorfer tipped the puck to Mueller on the right side of the slot. Mueller took aim then sent a low shot under Cronin’s leg pad to give the Wildcats the lead.
Mueller said, “When I scored the first one, I was kind of surprised it went in because it was not a very good shot. But it felt really good. I know in that moment our team had gained the momentum, and the Fury was getting frustrated.”
The Wildcats increased their lead just 22 seconds later. Senior Jenna Klenz took control of the puck along the boards in center ice and passed it to sophomore Jordan Bonk who was cutting through the center of the zone. Bonk skated the puck into the Fury’s zone and took a shot from the slot. Cronin stopped it. The rebound caromed to the left. Turer sped to it and immediately lofted a backhander into the net at 15:52.
The Wildcats made it 3-0 midway through the third period. During a scramble for the puck after a faceoff in the Fury’s right circle, a Fury player tried to chip it out of the zone. Senior defenseman Michaela Fritz stopped the puck just inside the blue line then fired a shot toward the far post. The rebound off of Cronin’s pads angled to Youngblood in the left circle. Youngblood gunned it into the net at 7:12.
Mueller scored her second goal at 9:11. The Wildcats dumped the puck deep into the Fury’s zone for a line change. Diffley hopped the boards and sped after the puck in the right corner. Her hard-charging forecheck forced the defenseman to ring the puck around the back boards. Zoe Neudorfer halted the puck’s progress on the left mid-boards. Neudorfer fired the puck toward the net. Diffley, who had moved in front, tipped it back to Mueller in the slot. Mueller fired a back hand shot that flew into the net up where your mom hides the holiday presents, giving the Wildcats the gift of a secure victory.
After the game, Carey said, "The girls played two really strong periods after a pretty sluggish first period. Our strong forecheck played a big role in allowing us to get pucks on their goalie. Emily Mueller and her linemates had two big goals for our team tonight. A nice win for the team and now we need to get ready for a tough game on Tuesday night against the Warbirds."
Rock County is 2-3 and 0-0 in the Badger Conference. The Fury face off with the Icebergs of Stoughton in a Badger Conference game at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7th at the Mandt Community Center in Stoughton.
USM is 4-1 and 1-0 in the Eastern Shores Conference. The Wildcats play an important Eastern Shores Conference game when they host the Fond du Lac Warbirds co-op at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4th.