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Alexandria’s Kaila DeWanz sends a shot at the net during the Cardinals’ season opener against Albert Lea on November 8. DeWanz had an assist against Detroit Lakes in a 7-2 win last Friday as Alexandria improved to 4-0 on the young season. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

Cardinals cruising early on

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Cardinals cruising early on
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

It’s still early in the season, but the Alexandria girls’ hockey team got two section wins to assert itself once again as one of the 6A favorites by moving to 4-0 in the process late last week.

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Alexandria was tested in the third period for one of the first times this season before beating Fergus Falls 4-2 last Thursday. That came a day before running past Detroit Lakes in a 7-2 game on the road on Friday.

“We’re definitely pleased with how they’re playing right now,” head coach Blair Hovel said. “We definitely have some things we’ve got to work on to get better. All four games we’ve had strong performances, but we’ve also had some letdowns…we have some tough teams on our schedule so we’ll have to overcome those letdowns. I can’t complain too much. We are definitely playing as a team, which is exciting.”

The Cardinals never let Detroit Lakes stay in the game after putting up four goals in the first period on Saturday. Mari Wosepka and Melissa Drown each had three points as Wosepka scored twice and assisted on another and Drown, a senior captain, finished with a hat trick.

“That was very exciting,” Hovel said of Drown. “For her to get in the scoring column was really good. She obviously wears the “C” on her jersey for a reason. She’s a leader by example, and she’s vocal enough to tell the girls we’re better and to push the girls in the right direction. She’s always positive and she works hard.”

Wosepka and Nicole Bartels each had two points in leading the Cardinals to a tightly-contested win over the Otters the night before. Alexandria never trailed in the game, but Fergus Falls was able to tie things up at two apiece in the third period.

The Otters had an opportunity on the power play, but Hanah Hansen shifted the momentum entirely in Alexandria’s favor with a shorthanded goal at 12:26. Bartels then put the finishing touches on the win with her second goal of the night at 16:32 on an empty net.

“They responded really well,” Hovel said. “Right away when we gave up that tying goal, the enthusiasm and the attitude on the bench dropped a little bit. Basically, all the coaches said, ‘It’s still our game, still our barn, just go out and perform the way you know how to perform.’ ”

It’s still only four games into the season, but any two wins against section opponents are important. It gives Alexandria an early lead in the standings and helps to create a mindset that the Cardinals are once again the early favorites in the section field.

“That is good to have that early favorite status going for us,” Hovel said. “With Fergus, we know we’re going to be in a battle with them the next time we play them up at their barn. That will be difficult, but then when it comes to playoffs it comes down to who improved throughout the season most. It was good to have a tight game there. They’re going to be tough, and we know we need to improve. We’re not going to relax and think it’s just going to be an easy road to the state tournament by any means.”

The Cardinals’ next game comes at home against a team that Hovel is very familiar with. He spent a year as the head coach for the River Lakes team that is coming to the Runestone Community Center tomorrow night, Thursday, for a 7:15 p.m. drop of the puck.

The Stars are 1-1 this year after beating Litchfield-Dassel-Cokato and losing 6-2 to Roseau. Hovel not only coached River Lakes a year ago, but he spent the whole summer helping them prepare for this season. He knows they have a little extra incentive to try and beat the Cardinals with head coach Jack Freeman now leading the way.

“It’s going to come down to the girls,” Hovel said. “I know the River Lakes girls have a lot of motivation to come to our place and play well. Basically, they want to beat me. I don’t even think they’re looking at beating the Alexandria girls’ hockey team. They’re looking at beating me…I know Jack’s a great coach, so he’ll get them headed in the right direction and working as a team. As long as they listen to him, it’s going to be a battle. I am a little nervous about it because of what I know they have. They have some good defenders, a good goalie and some girls who can put the puck away.”

GAME SUMMARY ALEXANDRIA 4 1 2 – 7

DETROIT LAKES 0 2 0 – 2

SHOTS – Alexandria – 17, 11, 14 – 42; Detroit Lakes – 8, 9, 4 – 21

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Rachel Drew (Kaila Dewanz, Taylor Ellingson), 3:35; Alexandria – Melissa Drown (Mari Wosepka, McKenzie Revering), 7:42; Alexandria – Wosepka (Nicole Bartels), 14:06; Alexandria – Wosepka (Ellingson, Karina Carlsen), 15:03

SECOND PERIOD – Detroit Lakes – Randa Larsen (Hailegh Wenger, Emily Seebold), 1:57; Detroit Lakes – N/A; Alexandria – Sam Klimek (Revering), 11:29

THIRD PERIOD – Drown (PPG), 4:46; Alexandria – Drown (Hanah Hansen), 12:02

GOALTENDING – Bailey Serum – W, 19 saves, 21 shots faced, 2 goals allowed; Detroit Lakes – Veronica Badurek – 35 saves, 42 shots faced, 7 goals allowed

FERGUS FALLS 1 0 1 – 2

ALEXANDRIA 1 1 2 – 4

SHOTS – Fergus Falls – 7, 7, 6 – 20; Alexandria – 7, 10, 6 – 23

SCORING – FIRST PERIOD – Alexandria – Wosepka (shorthanded), 10:27; Fergus Falls Lauren Norgren, 12:29

SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Bartels (Drown, Wosepka), 0:14

THIRD PERIOD – Fergus Falls – Sydney Kuehl (Lauren Norgren), 10:46; Alexandria – Hansen (shorthanded), 12:26; Alexandria – Bartels (shorthanded), 16:32

GOALTENDING – Fergus Falls – Katie Shelstad – L, 20 saves, 23 shots faced, 3 goals allowed; Alexandria – Amy Jost – W, 18 saves, 20 shots faced, 2 goals allowed

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Eric Morken
Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
(320) 763-1229
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