FL hockey girls defeat Duluth to advance to the section final
The Forest Lake hockey girls played an exciting game in their 2-0 shutout over Duluth, which propelled them into the Section 7AA championship game.
The second-round section home game against the Northern Stars on Saturday was a scoring standstill throughout the first period, when senior Abbi White deflected 11 shots on goal compared to Duluth’s five.
With five minutes to go in the second period, the Rangers’ Mady Muntifering took aim from the left point. The sophomore’s shot was blocked, but junior Alexa Bremer came in on the lower right side of the crease for the go-ahead score. Eighth-grader Maddie Kolbow also assisted on the play.
White came up big soon after the goal with another save on a Duluth breakaway, sending the Rangers into the final break with the lead. The Rangers’ on-ice celebrations were drowned by homecrowd cheers again in the third period off a neutral-zone faceoff. Up against the boards following the faceoff, sophomore Kayla Brust shoved the puck to Alyssa Taylor. Reading the defense, which had begun to shift toward Ranger sophomore Kennedy Crever, Taylor took it to the net and snuck the score between the post and Duluth goalie for a cushion-providing goal.
While Taylor’s goal sealed the scoring, head coach Ryan Sauter also mentioned that the “shutdown” line of Bremer, senior Amy Enrooth and senior Lexi Carpenter were instrumental in warding off Duluth’s best players.
White came up big again throughout the third to save 14 more shots for a total of 27 on the night.
“Abbi just continues to impress,” Sauter said. “Just when you think she’s reached the top of her game, she comes out with something more spectacular. Again, she was just our rock.”
The Rangers will face Elk River/Zimmerman for the section title at 7 p.m. tonight, Feb. 14 at the Fogerty Arena in Blaine. This is the first section championship game the Ranger girls have competed in since the 2001-02 season.
Sauter said the girls have spent the week looking at game tape and holding extra meetings to discuss improvement in cutting down on defensive breakdowns and staying disciplined.
“They chimed in and took ownership of their mistakes,” Sauter said. “That alone speaks volumes about what they’ve learned this season, and that’s something to be proud of. They’re students of the game, not just players.”
The Elks came into the section tournament as the No. 3 seed and defeated No. 2-seed Cloquet-Esko-Carlton in overtime to earn the trip to the finals. Elk River/Zimmerman is 12-12-3 overall while Forest Lake stands at 14-10-2.