RHINELANDER — The Northern Edge girls’ hockey co-op got a lot of ice time last weekend and, more importantly, a lot of wins as well.
The main Northern Edge squad won all three of its games at the Hodagland tournament in Rhinelander, bookending Saturday’s 9-0 rout of Marquette, Mich. with 2-1 squeakers over Viroqua on Friday and the Stoughton co-op on Sunday.
Needing an eighth team to fill the field, the Edge fielded what amounted to a varsity reserve team in the tournament — taking advantage of a provision that allows players to play up to five periods a day in a varsity/JV setting. That squad went 2-1 for the weekend.
“They dug deep,” Northern Edge coach Tom Roeser said. “We’re actually talking about six games because we needed to get another team into this tournament. A lot of these girls have a lot of periods under them right now. We’re taking tomorrow off, getting some rest. They deserve it.”
The main Edge squad was the only team to go 3-0 in the tournament. Northland Pines was 2-0, but chose not to play on Sunday, the final day of the event.
“I said consider this the championship game, because it really was, I thought. We were the team that stuck around and played on Sunday,” Roeser said. “We played Stoughton. We knew they were a good team. They’ve got some fast skaters. They’re big and physical and their goaltending did a nice job, too. I was really happy with how we kind of came out and took care of business.”
Edge 2, Viroqua 1
Vizanko scored twice for the Edge on Friday night, which withstood a late Viroqua push as it held on for a 2-1 win the first day of the tournament.
Vizanko scored rebound goals in each of the first two periods, but the Hawks got to within a goal on an Erin Simonson tally with 1:35 to play. The Edge withstood a late rush when Viroqua pulled its goalie and held on for the win.
“They’re a good team. I looked at their schedule before the game and they’re playing some really good teams tight,” Roeser said. “They just beat U-School (University School of Milwaukee). They’re playing Stoughton tight. That was a big win for the Northern Edge, I think.
“I thought we outplayed them the whole game except maybe the last five minutes. That’s when we struggled and that’s when they scored,” Roeser said. “But most of these girls have five periods on them today. They saw a lot of ice.”
Vizanko, who was battling an illness according to Roeser, still made a big contribution to the victory. She was in position late in the first period to find a rebound off a Maria Gironella shot to make it 1-0. The junior from Lakeland scored in a similar fashion in the second period off a rebound from Emily Kassler to make it 2-0.
“That’s what we need out of Kate,” Roeser said. “She continues to show up and continues to bang goals. She almost had an open-netter, but that’s what we expect out of her and she delivers.”
The Edge outshot Viroqua 28-22 in the contest and goalie Alicia Turunen thwarted a couple of breakaway chances throughout the game. Finally, the Hawks broke through on an odd-skater rush late in the third. Rachel Simonson skated in on Turunen 1-on-0. Though Turunen broke up the initial shot, Simonson tracked down the puck in the corner and passed to a trailing Erin Simonson, whose one-timer from the slot made it a one-goal game.
Viroqua had a chance to cut into the lead earlier in the third period, but the Edge killed a pair of power plays over the first 6 1/2 minutes of the frame. The Edge blocked four shots on the second of the two penalty kills.
“That’s what we work on, just keeping your body in the lane,” Roeser said. “We always say we know when you’re tying to make it look like you’re blocking a shot and when you’re actually trying to block a shot. They did great tonight. The kills, we had really active sticks. We didn’t let anybody skate to through the middle. They had to take some bad-angle shots just to get pucks to the net.”
Turunen made 21 saves in the win for the Edge while Abigale Severson stopped 26 pucks in defeat for Viroqua.
Edge 9, Marquette 0
The Edge’s second game in the tournament was not nearly as difficult as they outmatched Marquette 9-0. The Edge blew the game open with five goals in the second period and outshot the Jr. Wildcats 33-4 in the contest.
“I was really proud of the girls because we had a late night last night, we got here at 8:30 this morning, had a game (with the varsity reserve team), had to sit around the rink, go through a skills competition and then hit the ice,” Roeser said. “Our warmup was terrible before this game so I had no clue what to expect, but they came out and played and started putting some pucks home.”
Rhinelander senior Madi Losch scored four goals for the Edge and Vizanko added a hat trick. But a goal by Tomahawk junior Serena Henke — her second of the year — seemed to be the defining moment of the game.
Hanke’s goal came 3:09 into the second period as she took a shot from the bottom right faceoff circle that popped in and out of goalie Tara Mankee’s glove and into the back of the net.
“We’ve been working on putting pucks on net and going for the rebound. You never know what’s going to happen,” Roeser said.
The goal seemed to open the floodgates as Vizanko hooked up with Lakeland freshman Caitlyn Fesnick for a pair of back-to-back goals. Fesnick touched a pass ahead for Vizanko in the slot and Vizanko fired to the top left corner to make it 4-0 at the 5:08 mark of the second. The two hooked up again on a 2-on-1 breakaway to make it 5-0 at the 9:51 mark.
Fesnick finished the game with three assists and scored a power play goal for the Edge in the third period.
“You can see it in the way she patrols the ice. I’m hoping she broke free a little bit today,” Roeser said. “She’s got really nice skills and I’m glad she got those assists today.”
Losch and Vizanko had the Edge’s goals in the opening period. Losch scored the final two tallies of the second period to complete her hat trick, and tacked on one more for good measure 2:43 into the third.
Turunen had a quiet afternoon in the Edge goal, making only four saves. The Edge held Marquette without a shot in the second period and only one shot in the third.
“That means our offense zone is working,” Roeser said. “We were very aggressive when the puck started coming out of the zone. Our D was stepping (toward the play). We still have to have that third forward covering for them, but the D was aggressive enough where we didn’t have to use that second round of backup.”
Edge 2, Stoughton co-op 1
Goals by Kassler and Izzy Boyer, along with a 28-save effort by Turunen, proved to be enough as the Edge held off the Icebergs 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Turunen was 7.1 seconds away from a shutout, but Taylor Nisius scored in a scrum in front of the Edge net on a 6-on-4 power play to pull Stoughton within a goal. The Edge neutralized the ensuing faceoff and the Icebergs were unable to mount one final look to tie the game.
Scoreless after one, the Edge got on the board 3:46 into the second period on the power play as Kassler fired in a shot from the far boards that beat Stoughton goalie Cora Zimmerman top shelf to the glove side. Roeser said the goal was actually the result of some serendipitous miscommunication.
“Not our power play, however we take what we can get. We try to work it a little closer to the net. I was actually telling Madi Losch to start stepping and shooting. Emily thought I was talking to her, so Emily did it,” Roeser said. “It worked out great. I looked like a genius, and actually I was kind of a schmuck.”
Stoughton outshot the Edge 21-9 over the final two periods, and 29-21 overall but Turunen came up with a number of key saves to keep the Icebergs off the board, especially early in the third period. She denied Stoughton’s Aeryn Olson on a point-blank chance 2 1/2 minutes into the period and then stopped a 2-on-1 chance moments later.
“Alicia was excellent. We got outshot 10-4 in that third period. We got outshot in the second period, too,” Roeser said. “I kind of thought we were running out of gas, but the one thing we did do — of the 30 shots — a lot of them we kept outside. We let her do her job, tried not to tip too much inside (by) her and, in that third period, she stood up and made some excellent saves.”
The Edge got a needed insurance goal as Boyer, a junior from Lakeland, scored a rebound off a shot by Fesnick. Boyer missed the first four games of the season for the Edge, but returned to action for the tournament.
“The energy she brings and we can match up some lines better, it’s a big deal having her back,” Roeser said.
Edge-2 goes 2-1
The Edge’s second team went 2-1 in the tournament, defeating Medford 4-1 on Friday, falling to Stoughton 4-1 on Saturday and beating Beaver Dam 2-1 on Sunday.
Turunen skated out and played forward for the Edge’s second team and scored twice in the game against Medford. Alexis Herkdle and Fesnick also scored as the Edge scored three unanswered goals after Medford tied it 50 seconds into the second period.
Losch scored the lone goal in Saturday’s game against Stoughton. The Icebergs broke a 1-1 tie with a goal eight seconds into the third period and scored twice more in the final frame.
Goals by Wyndi Saari and Losch gave the Edge a 2-0 lead after two periods over Beaver Dam. The Beavers got back to within a goal with 4:01 led in regulation and the Edge held on, despite having to kill a 6-on-3 power play over the final 21 seconds.
Anna Maulson, a junior from Lakeland, played all three games in goal and made 86 saves in 92 chances.
The Edge (4-3-0) gets to rest this week and returns to action Tuesday, Jan. 7 as it takes third-ranked Central Wisconsin at the Lakeland Ice Arena. The Storm defeated the Edge 11-2 in the season opener.
“Our next order is the Storm and I feel a lot better about playing them now than I did when we played them the first game,” Roeser said. “I think the girls are getting together, knowing each other a little better. I’m pretty happy with the way they’re starting to work together. The locker room atmosphere is incredible.”
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at [email protected]