Alexandria girls' hockey: Youth shines in shutoutYoung players have added depth to a girls' hockey team that wants to return to the top of Section 6A
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Cardinal girls’ hockey team made a statement that it might be the team to beat in the Section 6A field this year and for the foreseeable future last Thursday night when the Cardinals used a young nucleus to skate past Fergus Falls for the second time this season.
The Otters came into the Runestone Community Center with a 3-1 record in section play. That lone loss came against Alexandria in a 3-0 game on November 13. Not much changed in round two of this match-up as the Cardinals won 3-0 in a game that was more one-sided than the final score even indicates.
“It’s always big with Fergus,” head coach Andy Shriver said. “It’s conference, it’s section, it’s rivalry. That’s always a factor. I think because we’ve had the layoff and it was the first game back, we wanted to start strong. We kind of knew we were going to be a little rusty so we had to stay positive. It was a good night for us.”
Alexandria controlled the pace of play for much of the night but didn’t have anything to show for it through one period. The Cardinals outshot the Otters 12-4 in the opening frame and 43-14 for the game. At 7:13 in the second period, that constant pressure finally paid off when freshman Mari Wosepka connected off an assist from fellow freshman Hanah Hansen.
Young players stepping up in an important game would be the theme of the night for Alexandria. Eighth grader McKenzie Revering added to her team’s lead off a pass from senior co-captain Shelby Iverson late in the second period. She scored on a shot from the perimeter that found its way through a crowd and into the back of the net.
That came after freshman goaltender Amy Jost did her part to keep it scoreless early on. The Otters had some quality chances to take a lead early in the second period on a power play. Jost turned aside some close-in scoring chances and also blocked a breakaway opportunity that could have given Fergus Falls all the momentum.
“We felt like we controlled the game for the most part,” Shriver said. “But you look up after the first period and it’s 0-0…Amy had some great saves. There was a flurry there where there was a quality shot and two quality rebounds. Any one of them could have gone in, and she kept the shutout intact.”
The play of young athletes like Jost have added to the depth of this Alexandria team as it tries to get back to a state tournament after a one-year hiatus. Shriver liked many of the veterans he had coming back after falling to Detroit Lakes in the section finals a year ago. What he wanted was to see more players step up around them.
“These young girls have come in, 8th and 9th graders, and really filled that void,” Shriver said. “We’ve been depending on them all year and now that they’ve been tested and passed with flying colors, we know we can count on them. At this point in the season, there’s no more 8th and 9th grade. You’re either varsity or you’re not, and they are.”
The growth of those players is part of the reason why Alexandria is confident in its ability to get back to the Xcel Energy Center in February. The Cardinals are now 8-5-2 after they followed the win over the Otters with a 6-2 victory against Detroit Lakes on Saturday.
Most of those losses have come against quality teams from the Twin Cities area. Three of their five losses have come against Class AA teams, including an 8-1 loss to Hopkins on December 20.
“We went down and got killed by an excellent Hopkins team,” Shriver said. “Yeah, 8-1 felt kind of disgusting, but it also kind of set our agenda for the second half. Just as Hopkins took advantage and executed against us, we need to be able to do that against the weakest teams in our conference and send those messages.”
Alexandria seems to have sent the message that it’s once again the team to beat in the section. Northern Lakes (9-6-0) is the only other team besides the Cardinals with a winning record in the 6A field. The Lightning lost to Fergus Falls 4-2 earlier this season and will play Alexandria in Pequot Lakes on January 22.
The Cardinals have passed every test in the section to this point with four wins coming by a combined score of 18-2. That game against Northern Lakes could be the final test presented to them as they try to wrap up the top seed heading into the tournament.
FERGUS FALLS 0 0 0 – 0
ALEXANDRIA 0 2 1 – 3
SHOTS – Fergus Falls – 4, 7, 3 – 14; Alexandria – 12, 14, 17 – 43
FIRST PERIOD – No scoring
SECOND PERIOD – Alexandria – Wosepka (Hansen), 7:13; Alexandria – Revering (Iverson), 14:42
THIRD PERIOD – Alexandria – Ellingson (unassisted), 15:04
GOALTENDING – Fergus Falls – Jordie Salwei – L, 40 saves, 43 shots; Alexandria – Jost – W, 14 saves, 14 shots