Ranger hockey girls hit slump

With just two regular-season games remaining, the Forest Lake girls hockey team is in the middle of a four-game slump after falling to East Ridge and Cretin-Derham Hall on the road last week.

Last Tuesday, the Rangers fell 2-0 to the Raptors, then lost 4-0 to the Raiders on Friday.

Head coach Ryan Sauter said the lull is due to several variables.

Junior Rachel Skoglund brings the puck up the ice at Highland Arena last week during a game against Cretin-Derham Hall. Photo by Kat Ladwig

Junior Rachel Skoglund brings the puck up the ice at Highland Arena last week during a game against Cretin-Derham Hall. Photo by Kat Ladwig

“I think it’s a combination of frustrations with things we can’t control,” Sauter said. “The school cancellations, which mean no practice, injuries, illness and juggling lines because of those missing players — we just need to continue to focus on the ultimate goal, which is playoffs.”

The Rangers sit 0-2-1 in Section 7AA play, which puts them fourth of eight teams. Andover, Elk River-Zimmerman and Grand Rapids-Greenway are one-two-three in the section. Forest Lake fell 2-1 to Grand Rapids-Greenway on Jan. 11.

A result of the absences from the Ranger lineup is line changes, one of which meant moving junior captain Rachel Skoglund from defenseman to forward.

“Rachel’s move was a kick forward for us,” Sauter said. “We’re still not scoring much, but she’s getting us chances, and we’ve got to just keep hammering away.”

Among other players who have been constants this season, sophomore goalie Kaylee Remington also received praise from the head coach after recording 24 saves against East Ridge and 34 saves against Cretin-Derham Hall.

“Kaylee has just been wonderful throughout the season,” Sauter said. “As a 10th-grader she has outshone our wildest expectations, especially having to fill some big shoes — she’s definitely been a bright spot for us.”

Sauter reiterated that his young squad has a bright future ahead of it and is hoping to keep his team focused on the positives.

“I told them that once you make it to the top, it’s that much harder to stay there,” Sauter said. “That’s a tough lesson we’re learning right now, and they’re learning the hard way that there’s not always an immediate reward for our efforts.”

The Rangers were scheduled to face Park for their final home game on Tuesday, but a school cancellation for the weather leaves the date of the matchup yet to be determined. Next, Forest Lake travels to Woodbury for a 3 p.m. game to close the regular season.

Forest Lake is 7-13-2 overall and 5-12 in the Suburban East Conference.

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