It was a tale of two games for the Northern Edge girls’ hockey co-op on Thursday, Jan. 9, against Northland Pines. The Edge stuck with the Eagles for two periods, but ran out of gas in the third, surrendering four goals en route to a 6-0 defeat at the Rhinelander Ice Arena.
Shots were virtually even midway through the second period, but Pines poured it on late, outshooting the Edge 16-3 in the third period and 36-17 overall.
“We played with them,” Northern Edge coach Tom Roeser said. “I think we were down on shots at the end of the second, but we passed a lot of shots up where we tried to make one too many moves, didn’t get the shot off. I thought some of the shots their goalie didn’t handle well and I thought we needed to put a lot more pucks on her and things could have changed.”
The Edge was unable to stop Northland Pines’ top line of Allison Kieffer, Madison Stebbeds and Grace Wittkopf, who accounted for all six goals and all but one of the Eagles’ 14 points on the night. The trio did most of its damage right in front of Edge goalie Anna Maulson, who recorded 30 saves in defeat.
Kieffer, who finished with a hat trick, put the Eagles on the board with 2:04 remaining in the first period as she capitalized on a rebound off a Stebbeds shot. Wittkopf then cashed in on a breakaway chance at the 6:17 mark of the second to give Pines a 2-0 lead.
The score remained 2-0 until the 2:59 mark of the third when Kieffer banged home another rebound. She recorded her third goal on a breakaway chance at the 7:22 mark of the third and nearly had a fourth a minute later on another breakaway. Maulson stopped initial shot, but Stebbeds was able to find the loose puck on the rebound and score to make it 5-0.
Wittkopf added a short-handed goal with 3:51 remaining as she tipped home an Emma Sima shot from the point.
“We let them walk,” Roeser said of the Eagles’ top line’s ability to get in front of the Edge net with relative ease. “We know they’re big and strong. We talked about how their girls shoot hard and we can’t let them walk in front of our goalie and we did that a few times.”
Ashlynn Boxrucker recorded a 17-save shutout of Northland Pines. Her most active period came during a Northern Edge power play midway through the second period. The Edge had a three-shot flurry and a subsequent two-shot flurry with the skater advantage, but were unable to get a puck past the Eagle sophomore.
“We’re still working on shooting the puck a little harder, but she left some rebounds out and we’ve got to get to them,” Roeser said. “We’ve got to get stronger in front of the net and not let girls push us around. I think that can be the difference in games, if we just learn to work thought some of those tough little battles.”
The loss dropped the Edge (4-5-0) below .500. The team was scheduled to travel to Houghton-Hancock, Michigan today, but the trip was canceled due to a scheduling issue.
“I don’t think the Houghton trip getting canceled is a bad thing. It’s a long drive for a little hockey. We’ll take a couple days off and get back at ‘er Monday night,” Roeser said.
The Edge returned to Rhinelander on Monday to take on Medford in a game that concluded after deadline. The team is in Antigo Friday to take on Chippewa Falls/Menomonie and then will head to Medford Saturday for a three-team invitational.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at [email protected]