By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM - The New Ulm girl's hockey team has had more than a week of rest and relaxation, and the rust definitely showed in the first period of Tuesday's Section 3A game against Fairmont.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Fairmont goalie Sadie Sandersfeld deflects a shot by New Ulm’s Erika Ries (10) during the first period of the Eagles’ playoff win Tuesday at the New Ulm Civic Center.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
The Eagles' offense wasn't having any problems scoring goals, but the defense was having a hard time stopping them. In the end though, the Eagles skated to a 14-4 win over a much improved Fairmont team.
The loss ends Fairmont's season at 10-11-1 while New Ulm improves to 17-7. The Eagles will play Luverne (a 6-1 winner over Marshall on Tuesday) at 7 p.m. Thursday for the Section 3A championship.
"The forecheck was very strong and we were very aggressive around the puck," Fairmont coach Scott Kuhl said. "We attacked their net and that's basically what was working for us tonight."
Brittany Denn led the Eagles with five goals and two assists. Erika Ries finished with three goals for New Ulm. Logyn Cone finished with three goals for the Cardinals.
Julia Schaefer had 10 saves for New Ulm and Sadie Sanderfeld stopped 24 shots for the Cardinals. Emily O'Connor had 12 saves in the third period for Fairmont.
While the Eagles have been off for more than a week, the offense looked fine in the first period as they got two goals from Denn and one each from Ries and Ali Beltz.
Cone scored two goals and Taylor Nuss added one for the Cardinals in the first period.
"We had lots of energy in the locker room today, lots of enthusiasm," Denn said. "Maybe some nerves got to us, our offensive zone was phenomenal all game for us. Our defensive zone in the first period was just a little off, but we came out second period and put it together."
New Ulm coach Kristin Faber said the Eagles were a little surprised after the first period.
"We came out and we were a little shocked I think," Faber said.?"I went in and said that it doesn't matter how many goals we score tonight if we can't stop them defensively. But we came out flying in the second and third period and we were a lot more fun to watch in the second and third period."
Denn couldn't have been more right about that. After a shaky start defensively which saw the Eagles holding a one-goal advantage, New Ulm scored six times in the second period to go up 10-3, meaning the third period could be played with running time.
"We knew coming out of the first period that we didn't come out like we needed to," Denn said.?"We were only winning by one and we knew that we had to start putting it away."
New Ulm scored four more goals in the third period and Cone scored her third goal.
The Cardinals had a good season and they return everyone on the roster next season. For Kuhl and his team, the future looks bright.
"It looks pretty good, they're learning to believe in themselves," Kuhl said. "Once they come together, they'll be something to be reckoned with here in Section 3."
As for New Ulm, the Eagles know they can't let Luverne get off to a fast start on Thursday.
"I think it's going to come down to [us] being ready to play," Faber said. "We can't take 17 minutes out of the game and expect to win."
New Ulm 4 6 4 - 14
Fairmont 3 0 1 - 4
1st period: B. Denn (NU) 2:18 (Ries); Nuss (FMT) 2:44 (Carlson); Beltz (NU) 7:12 (B. Denn); Cone (FMT) 10:47 (Wilson); B. Denn (NU) 11:14; Ries (NU) 13:44; Cone (FMT) 14:52 (Wilson, K. Junkermeier).
2nd period: B. Denn (NU) 1:42 (Beltz); B. Denn (NU) 4:19 (Beltz, K. Denn); Ries (NU) 6:30 (Schugel, Beltz); Weiss (NU) 8:34; K. Denn (Schaefer, McMullen) 12:46; Schugel (NU) 13:58 (B. Denn, Ries).
3rd period: Ries (NU) :34; Reed (NU) 1:30; Weiss (NU) 8:10 (Schugel, Reed); Cone (FMT) 15:10; B. Denn (NU) 16:40 (Guggisberg).
Saves: New Ulm (Schaefer) 10. Fairmont (Sanderfeld) 24; (O'Connor) 12.