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Alex hockey falls 6-2 in Class A quarterfinals

Red Wing's junior forward Nicole Schammel proved to be too much to stop for the Alexandria girls' hockey team as the Cardinals fell 6-2 in the Class A quarterfinals on Wednesday morning.

Schammel came into the day with 120 points and 69 goals on the season. She left with four more after securing the hat trick in the first period and adding another in the second.

"What a phenomenal player," Alexandria head coach Andy Shriver said. "Nicole gets out there and she doesn't draw that attention to herself. She just has this incredible hockey sense where she puts herself in these great positions and then her skills and her execution is just about flawless."

Schammel's play trumped a solid effort by the Cardinals in a game that was a little closer than the final score indicates. The Cardinals fell behind 1-0 just 15 seconds into the game but found a way to answer back. Nicole Bartels found herself alone almost four minutes after that first goal and fired a wrister that got past Red Wing's Ashley Corcoran to tie things up.

Schammel simply took over the rest of the opening period. She went to her back hand at 11:18 to give herself an open net for a goal. In a span of a little more than four minutes, she added two more to give her team a 4-1 lead at the first intermission.

"That really helps," Red Wing head coach Scott Haley said of the early lead. "I think it takes a lot of pressure off of our defense. It makes us all look pretty smart when she puts three in in the first period."

The Cardinals didn't quit forcing the issue in the second period. Lauren Niska made a nice charge at the net that set up a goal that was credited to senior Shelby Iverson just 1:23 into the period. Alexandria continued to pressure Corcoran but missed making it a 4-3 game on a couple of pucks that trickled just wide of the post. Alexandria outshot Red Wing 14-11 in the second period.

"I mean, I think if you take everybody that watched this game, it's human nature to look at the scoreboard and crumble a little bit," Shriver said. "It was almost the opposite. We came in and licked our wounds for a few minutes but then came out and outshot them in the second. The score actually looked really good until they got two."

Schammel did what she had to do to take away any hopes of Alexandria coming all the way back. She released a wrister for her fourth goal of the day before her teammate, Emily Stegora, ended the scoring with less than a minute left in the second period.

Alexandria freshman Amy Jost got the start in net and had 26 saves. Corcoran got the win with 25 saves, including 13 in the second period.

The Cardinals will have a chance to put this game behind them when they get right back on the ice tomorrow morning at 10. Alexandria will move to the consolation bracket at Ridder Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota. They will take on the loser of the day's second quarterfinal game between The Blake School and Mound Westonka.

Shriver isn't worried about a letdown for a team that wants to finish this week off on a positive note.

"We've got senior captains in there who as they continue to cheer on their teammates down four goals with five, six minutes left in the game, then we stepped off the ice and they're talking about tomorrow," he said. "Talk about character. I'm not worried at all. We said if we were playing pond hockey tomorrow, we'd be awesome there too. It wouldn't be for the state championship, but we'd be there. That's the plan."

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.

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