Hockey: Girls beat three-time state champsLast Thursday, the Raiders took the short trip down Hwy. 35 to the Wildcat Centre in River Falls to face the fourth-ranked and three time defending state champion, St. Croix Valley Fusion, a team they lost to in overtime three weeks earlier. The Raiders emerged this time with a 4-3 upset victory.
By: Bob Burrows, Hudson Star-Observer
Even a slight shift in momentum can change the direction of a team’s season.
The Raiders girls’ hockey team broke a six game losing streak by tying Chippewa Falls/Menomonie back on Jan. 19, and used that game as a springboard for two road victories last week.
Last Thursday, Jan. 26, the Raiders took the short trip down Hwy. 35 to the Wildcat Centre in River Falls to face the fourth-ranked and three time defending state champion, St. Croix Valley Fusion, a team they lost to in overtime three weeks earlier. The Raiders emerged this time with a 4-3 upset victory.
Saturday, Jan. 28, Hudson continued its winning ways with a 4-1 victory at Superior. The Raiders, now 5-9-2 overall, 1-2-1 in the BRC, battled New Richmond in a nonconference game on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and return to BRC play with a home game against the Eau Claire-Altoona Stars at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.
Last Thursday in River Falls, Hailey Rock put the Fusion up 1-0 at 5:40 of the first period but the Raiders responded just 14 seconds later.
Hudson won the faceoff and drove into the Fusion zone where Alex Willi took the puck behind the net, held off two Fusion skaters, and kicked the puck out along the sideboards where a waiting Sydney Squires beat a Fusion player and scored as she skated across the front of the net.
Five minutes later, Racheal Knoke took a pass from Squires and beat Fusion goaltender Carlie Christensen on a hard, low shot to put the Raiders up 2-1 after one period.
The game picked up in intensity in the second period, as did the shots. Hudson’s Nali Mullan and Christensen stepped up with strong saves, until a series of Raider shots left Willi uncovered in front the net. As she was being knocked off the play, she found a small opening in the bottom corner of the net and put the Raiders up 3-1 after two periods. Knoke and Squires had assists on the play.
The Fusion started the third stanza on a power play and Fusion defender Heather Shew rifled a shot into the top corner to pull the Fusion to within a goal, 3-2. Four minutes later, Squires broke through the Fusion defense and put the Raiders back up by two.
Two Raider penalties in less than a minute put the Fusion on a 5-on-3 power play late in the third. St. Croix Valley’s Tori Klingler took a shot from just inside the blue line and it trickled through the mass of bodies in front of the net to cut the Raider lead to 4-3 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Raiders held off a furious Fusion rally in the last few seconds and skated away with just their second victory over the three-time defending state champions in the last five years.
Mullan stopped 22 Fusion shots, while Christensen made 18 saves for St. Croix Valley, who suffered their first BRC loss of the season.
Fusion head coach Matt Cranston said his team simply got outplayed by the Raiders.
“The Hudson girls outworked us in the first two periods,” he said. “They always bring their ‘A’ game when they play us and tonight they did it again.”
Saturday in Superior, Hudson opened the scoring at 12:30 of the first period when Chelsea Bates put a long pass on stick of Squires, who in turn found Willi uncovered in front of Spartan goalie, Sarah Runser. Willi rifled the shot through the five hole, putting the Raiders up 1-0.
Two minutes later, Squires broke through the Spartan defense uncontested to put Hudson up 2-0 at the end of the first period.
In the second period, Knoke, Squires and Willi cycled the puck around the Superior net, with Willi finding an opening on Runser’s blocker side to give the Raiders a 3-0 through two periods.
Superior’s Kaitlyn Merge scored the Spartans only goal on a power play shot from the blue line halfway through the third period. On the next Spartans’ power play, Willi poke-checked a shot out of the Spartan zone and Squires drove around the lone Superior defender to score a short-handed goal and make the final 4-1.
Mullan stopped 17 Spartan shots and Runser recorded 23 saves for Superior.