by DAVE PEDERSEN
Winning the section tournament that includes the top two girls hockey teams in the state no longer seems unrealistic for the local squad that upset No. 1 Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3-1 Friday.
“It was a huge win for us, proving that we can stick with a top team the entire game,” said coach Ray Dahlof about his team that improved to 11-4 overall.
When the Bison defeated the state’s No. 10 (Anoka 3-2) and No. 4 (Wayzata 3-2) ranked teams earlier this season, the rise in confidence was on an upward climb.
The team that includes players from Delano, Rockford and Buffalo may have experienced doubt after losing two of three games at the recent Armstrong-Cooper Holiday Classic before heading to BSM, 13-1 at the time.
For the second time this season the Bison took on the top-ranked team in the top class. The team could not handle then No. 1
Minnetonka (losing 5-3), a team that split two games with BSM.
Building a 3-0 lead against BSM, the Bison yielded on late third period goal. Senior goalie Lindsey Hartfiel made 41 saves compared to 19 for BSM. Ninth-grader Abby Halluska netted two goals and ninth-grade defender Allison Roethke scored the other. Sophomore Madi Jewell added two assists.
The Red Knights got a power play opportunity with a minute and a half left in the first period, but Roethke scored a shorthanded goal to take a 1-0 lead.
At 11:36 of the second period Roethke started a break out play to Jewell in the neutral zone. She passed to Halluska on the right wing, who scored on a shot from the faceoff circle.
At 10:18 of the third period, the Bison got the all important third goal from Halluska, who made a rush from the center red line.
“It was a fantastic effort to dangle around both defenders and then beat the goalie,” said Dahlof. “Benilde scored on a six to four advantage to ruin Hartfiel’s shutout bid.”
The Bison had no time to celebrate, moving on to play at No. 3 Eden Prairie Tuesday, after this issue went to press. After playing at Rogers, 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, the Bison are home to No. 13 Hopkins, which also plays in Section 6AA.
The Bison opened the first round of the Armstrong/Cooper tourney with a 5-1 victory over Woodbury at New Hope Arena. First period goals were scored by senior Emily Varner, Jewell and junior Lindsay Roethke.
Senior Katie Rooney scored a shorthanded goal early in the second period. Rooney scored again a minute and a half later.
In the semifinals the Bison lost to Champlin Park 3-1, getting its lone goal from Halluska. A close game was decided by an open net goal.
Facing Armstrong/Cooper in the third place game, the section rivalry continued. AC emerged with a 3-2 victory. Once again the Bison scored the first goal on a shorthanded effort by Lindsay Roethke. Still on the same power play, AC scored with a few seconds on the penalty.
Armstrong/Cooper scored again late in the first period and again in the second. Lindsay Roethke also scored the second Bison goal. AC won the game on a power play goal late in the third period.
Red Wing beat Champlin Park 4-1 for the championship. Lindsay Roethke and Rooney made the all-tournament team. The JV team won third place, beating Woodbury 7-0, losing to Champlin Park 3-2 and beating Rogers 4-1. Goalie Kendra Carlson and forward Ciara Prodahl made the all-tournament team.
Rooney leads the offense with 22 goals and 18 assists for 40 points. Lindsay Roethke has 34 points on 13 goals and 21 assists. Hartfiel has a save percentage of .930 and a goals against average of 1.70.