New Ulm’s 4-goal final period leads to Section 2A finals

File photo by Steve Muscatello New Ulm’s Ally Steffensmeier (12) takes a shot during a recent game a the New Ulm Civic Center.

HUTCHINSON — New Ulm’s Dani Weiss wasn’t about to be denied when her team needed her the most.

Weiss scored a power-play goal with 5:06 left in the game, breaking a 1-1 tie. The Eagles then got an empty-net goal with 1:36 remaining and another goal with 30 seconds left to defeat Hutchinson 4-1 in the Section 2A girls’ hockey semifinals at Burich Arena.

New Ulm will play top-seeded Delano/Rockford at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Gustavus Adolphus College for the section championship.

There was some confusion on the power-play goal by Weiss because it was announced that Ashtyn Wiltscheck had scored.

It was a frustrating game for New Ulm until that four-goal third period. Up until then, Hutchinson goalie Emma Barrick-Benson was in control.

“She’s a really good goalie and the last game we played her [a 2-0 win by Hutchinson on Jan. 19] she was amazing also,” Weiss said. “It was frustrating and I was shooting right into her all game, but we knew we had to get her moving side to side.

The teams battled to a scoreless first period with a total of seven shots on goal combined. New Ulm’s best scoring chance came with 7 minutes left in the period when Jayda Helget received a pass from point-blank range in front of the net but was denied by Barrick-Benson.

Barrick-Benson was frustrating New Ulm in the second when Weiss got free on a breakaway with 11 minutes to go but her shot was stopped when the goalie made a glove save to keep it scoreless.

After a Hutchinson power play ended in nothing late in the period, Hutchinson finally got on the board when Britta Johnson picked up a loose puck and buried it in the back of the net.

But that was all that New Ulm goalie Cassie Reed would allow.

“She definitely was in it, I talked to her before the game and she seemed determined,” Weiss said of Reed.

New Ulm’s Ali Beltz, the state’s leading scorer, was denied with 10:54 left in the third when Barrick-Benson slid to the right to make a save on a breakaway. But Molly Scheid got the equalizer with 7:57 left when she scored on an assist from Alexa Steffl.

Later, an interference penalty by Hutchinson’s Anna Fabel proved costly. Weiss was able to flip one past Barrick-Benson just 14 seconds into the penalty to put New Ulm ahead 2-1 with 5:06 left.

The Eagles (22-4-1) held strong defensively the rest of the way to advance to the section finals. New Ulm got an empty-net goal and Weiss scored with 30 seconds left to make it 4-1.

Weiss, now a senior, was a member of the team’s last trip to state when she was a freshman.

“We’re beyond excited,” she said. “There’s a lot of screaming and a lot of tears of joy. We’re all excited to be there and we’ve worked hard.”