2/16/2018 11:35:00 AM Wildcats upset Minneapolis in first round, but run into Breck in second
Chisago Lakes 3, Minneapolis 0 The fifth-seeded Wildcat girls’ hockey team picked a good time “to play one of the best games we’ve played all season long,” said Wildcat head coach Dave Burgen – their first section playoff game. The Wildcats scored early in the first period and added a couple of power play goals in the third period to beat the fourth-seeded Minneapolis Novas 3-0 in the Section 5A quarterfinals. Wildcat goalie Megan Lerfald stopped all 26 shots she faced to earn the shutout win. It was the first playoff win for the Wildcats since they won the consolation championship at the state tournament in 2012. The game was played at Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis on Wednesday, February 7. The win sent the Wildcats to the section semifinal game against top-seeded Breck this past Tuesday, February 13, also at Parade Ice Garden.
Early in the first period, the Wildcats thwarted a Nova scoring attempt. Maddie Lundeen passed the puck from behind the net to Danielle Burgen along the left half wall. Burgen chipped it ahead to Jenna Lawry, who skated into the Nova zone down the left side for a two-on-one, with Malia Mckinnon on the right. Lawry thought about passing, but instead ripped a shot from the lower right circle that hit the underside of the crossbar in the upper right corner of the net, bounced straight down and into the net to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at 2:33. Late in the first period, the Wildcats took a couple of penalties resulting in over a minute of a five-on-three advantage for the Novas. The Wildcats killed off the penalties. Burgen said “When we killed off the five-on- three, it was a big turning point for us in this game. You could see the players’ confidence grow.”
The Wildcats continued to play well, but the score stayed the same until the third period, where the third time was the charm for the Wildcats. Controlling the puck on the power play, Mckinnon passed the puck from the left circle to Megan Bye behind the Nova net. Bye came around the right side of the net and passed it to Grace DeVries in the low slot. DeVries one-timed it and the goalie made a great save. They ran the play again right away and the shot went wide. The third time they ran the play, DeVries’ shot beat the goalie and hit the back of the net to put the Wildcats up 2-0 at 5:15. The Wildcats truly sealed the win with lass than a minute remaining in the third period. Minneapolis took a penalty at 16:05. The ensuing faceoff was in the right circle in front of the Nova net. From the faceoff, Lawry pushed the puck to the left. Burgen cut in front of a Nova player, took possession of the puck and fired. The goalie made a pad save and the puck rebounded out front. Lawry put the rebound on net and the goalie made another pad save. But the puck rebounded to Mckinnon standing just to the left of the net and Mckinnon one timed it into the open left side of the net to make the score 3-0. The whole play took only five seconds.
Burgen said “The players bought into the game plan and couldn’t have executed it any better. It was a proud moment for us as coaches. Megan Lerfald saw the puck well in the nets, and when she is on she is tough to beat.” Shots were nearly even, with the Wildcats holding a slight 27-26 advantage. And the Wildcat special teams were – well, special, as they killed off all four Nova power play opportunities and scored on both opportunities of their own. Hockey Hullaballoo Seventh-grader Malia McKinnon was voted the Top Performer in the entire state of Minnesota for the week of January 29 - February 3 on the Minnesota Girls Hockey Hub website. Mckinnon was nominated for scoring all four of the Wildcat goals in the Wildcats’ recent 4-3 win over Simley and beat out nine other players who were nominated, both Class A and Class AA. Voting is done by fans visiting the website. Mckinnon just beat out Maddie Junker of Hastings, who had a goal and four assists in Hastings’ 6-4 win over – you guessed it – Simley.
Breck 10, Chisago Lakes 0 In the Section 5A semifinals, the youthful but improving Wildcats showed that they still have a long way to go before challenging the team at the top of the section for the right to go to the state tournament. The top-seeded Breck Mustangs scored three goals in the first period, three more in the second and four in the third to shut out the Wildcats 10-0. The game was played this past Tuesday, February 13 at Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis. The Mustangs outshot the Wildcats 47-13 for the game. Breck will play Orono for the section championship tonight at 7 p.m. at the same location. The loss ends the season for the Wildcats.