MINNEAPOLIS - New Ulm goalie Julia Schaefer said she likes the close games where she knows she'll be the deciding factor.
On Thursday, Schaefer played one of her best games of the season for the Eagles. But it wasn't quite enough in the end as the Eagles girls hockey team saw its season come to an end in the consolation bracket of the Class A State Tournament with a 2-1 loss to Hibbing/Chisholm Thursday at Ridder Arena.
The loss ends New Ulm's season at 14-13-1.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm goalie Julie Schaefer dives on a rebound after making a save on a point blank shot from Sarah Fairbanks (left in white) of Hibbing/Chisholm during the first period of their consolation game at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis Thursday.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm’s Kali Denn (9) fights to get the puck away from Amy Brownell of Hibbing/Chisholm during consolation action at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis Thursday. In the background is the Eagles’ Lexie Weiss.
One night after the Eagles lost 9-0 to perennial state power Warroad, Schaefer delivered a strong performance for the Eagles and finished the game with 32 saves.
The back-to-back performances by Schaefer certainly stood out for the Eagles, who needed her sharp goaltending after scoring one goal in the two games at state.
"I was feeling really good and I was really confident," Schaefer said. "My teammates, they helped me get the pucks out of the way and they cleared people outside."
The Eagles were outshot by Hibbing/Chisholm 34-12, which meant Schaefer had to be the star if the Eagles were to have a chance.
"I love those games, I love the pressure and they're fun," Schaefer said. "I think they're easier because you're not getting one shot here and then waiting around for a long time."
The first period was a quiet one for both teams. While the Bluejackets outshot New Ulm 11-3, the Eagles managed to cash in on their rare opportunities.
The Eagles got on the board first when Brook Schugel scored on an assist from Morgan Schaefer at the 15:50 mark.
The Bluejackets tied the game with 7:32 left in the second period when Jacque Laliberte scored an unassisted goal. But like the first period, that was the only goal as the teams struggled to capitalize on several scoring opportunities. The Bluejackets outshot New Ulm 23-9 after two periods.
The Bluejackets opened the third period with a man advantage thanks to a penalty late in the second period, but they were unable to take advantage of the situation.
But the Bluejackets caught a huge break with 10:46 left in the game when Samantha Argir fired a shot at Schaefer. Schaefer was unable to pounce on the loose puck and it slid under her glove to give the Bluejackets the one-goal lead.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, that lead stood as Hibbing/Chisholm advanced to the consolation championship at 10 a.m. Saturday at Ridder Arena.
The Eagles graduate two seniors and have the majority of their players back for next year in what figures to be another run at state.
"It was really good," Schaefer said of the state tournament. "This is the best I think I've ever seen our team play. It's too bad we didn't win, but I felt that we still did good."
Hibbing/Chisholm 0 1 1 - 2
New Ulm 1 0 0 - 1
1st period: NU: Schugel (Schaefer) 15:50.
2nd period: H/C: Laliberte (unast.) 9:28.
3rd period: H/C: Argir (Rewirtz, Iozzo) 6:14.