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Park girls hockey: Wolfpack’s upset bid of Roseville falls short

Madison Nelson and Park took on 11th-ranked Roseville last week, falling 3-1. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)

The Park Wolfpack girls hockey team gave Roseville a scare in a 3-1 loss to the Raiders in the Suburban East Conference last week.

“They need to stop being surprised when they find out that they can compete with these teams,” Park head coach Steve Morse said of his team.

A state tournament regular, the Raiders (6-0; 3-0 SEC) found themselves trailing the Wolfpack 1-0 through two periods of play. Emma Waller put Park up with a goal at 15:38 in the opening period, and the Wolfpack (0-6; 0-4 SEC) appeared to have the upset bid going.

Then, however, the Raiders, ranked 11th in Class AA in the most recent coaches’ poll, poured on three goals in the third period to win 3-1. Erika Bjorkman scored right away in the third to tie, and the Wolfpack saw their potential upset evaporate.

It also meant that Wolfpack goalie Paige Press’ stellar game ended in a loss. She had 48 saves and a .943 save percentage for the game.

“She had a nice game,” Morse said.

The Wolfpack also put up a fight with the penalty kill as they stopped all six of the Raiders’ power plays. The Raiders out-shot the Wolfpack 51-26 overall despite trailing most of the game. The Wolfpack also came into the game short-handed. A full team this week could make a difference as Morse wants his team to take the next step.

“They need to raise the expectations of themselves,” Morse said.

Prior to the loss to Roseville, three-straight one-goal losses had the Wolfpack in need of a boost.

They fell to East Ridge 1-0, Eagan 3-2 and Woodbury 4-3 all in one week. In addition, they lost the lead against Eagan and Woodbury in those losses.

In the game against East Ridge (6-1; 3-0 SEC) on Tuesday, Nov. 19, the Raptors scored early with a goal by Anya Hafiz and held on for the win. Press had 35 saves and a .9772 save percentage for the Wolfpack despite the loss. The Wolfpack mustered 11 shots in the game.

They had a first-period lead against Eagan (1-5-1, 0-2 South Suburban) on Thursday, Nov. 21, when sophomore forward Maria Houle scored her first goal of the season. The Wildcats responded with two goals in the second period to take the lead, 2-1.

Taylor Anderson padded the Wildcat lead in the third period with her second goal of the game, but sophomore forward Abby Kirsch put the Wolfpack back within a goal about six minutes later. Freshman defender Hailey Nadeua-Robinson assisted on the goal. However, the Wildcats held on for their first win of the season. Press finished with 34 saves and stopped 91 percent of shots for the Wolfpack. The Wolfpack also were outshot 37-21.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, the Wolfpack built their biggest lead of the season against Woodbury (4-4; 1-2 SEC) when senior forward Emma Waller scored in the second period for a 2-0 lead. Junior defenders Sam Anderson and Alyssa Wickenhouser assisted on the goal.

Wolfpack Sophomore defender Lexi Hofstetter got the scoring going early wit a goal on an assist from Kirsch. The Royals rallied with a goal from Shannon Mtozko to cut the lead to 2-1.

Wickenhouser put the Wolfpack back up by two scores with a power play goal on an assist from Waller. The Royals then had three unanswered goals, which led to the 4-3 loss for the Wolfpack. Freshman goalie Bryce Boreen stopped 35 shots as the Wolfpack’s goaltender that night.

The road became no easier when the Wolfpack faced No. 11-ranked Roseville (4-0, 1-0 SEC) on Tuesday. A tough stretch of games continues for the Wolfpack after the Thanksgiving break with No. 17 Mounds View (2-2-2, 2-1 SEC) on Tuesday, Dec. 3 and No. 3 Class A South Saint Paul (2-0-1, 0-0 Classic Suburban) on Thursday, Dec. 5.

Both teams reached the state tournament last season.

The Wolfpack will then host Hastings (2-4, 1-2 SEC) on Saturday, Dec. 7, and then the Wolfpack and White Bear Lake Bears (3-3-1, 0-2-1 SEC) on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Both teams have struggled in SEC play thus far.

“They’re good teams that we can play with,” Morse said.

-Matthew Davis