By Bob Kuehl
The Mound Westonka/Watertown-Mayer/Southwest Christian girls hockey team remained unbeaten after another busy week. The White Hawks had three more games, the first two being at home and the third one at Alexandria.
On Dec. 11, the White Hawks hosted conference foe Holy Family. It was the most physical game of the season thus far. The visiting Fire was whistled for seven penalties and probably could have received many more due to stick work and high elbows. The White Hawks did not retaliate and stuck to their game plan.
The Fire struck first when their own player fell but, when getting up, the puck was right on her stick. She entered the zone and fired a shot on senior goalie Taylor Smith that rode up Smith’s stick and into the home team’s goal just 2:25 into the game. Less than two minutes later, senior captain Sydney Hules tied the score on a power play goal off a nice centering pass from sophomore Grace Peterson. For the period, the Fire outshot the White Hawks 11-9.
The Fire controlled the first six minutes of the second period, but then the game shifted over to the White Hawks. After trailing in shots 18-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the second period, shots would be 33-28 White Hawks with three minutes left in the game. During that time, Peterson scored the game winner off a pass from seniors Lauren Burris and Sydney Bowe.
The third period was an intense period with penalties and opportunities for both teams. But Smith shut the door, and the White Hawks sent the Fire home with their first Wright County Conference loss of the season. Sophomore Brooke Pioske and Hules shared the Hard Hat Award for their efforts in the game.
On Dec. 13, the Hutchinson Tigers came to Thaler Arena to take on the White Hawks. It was the first off night of the season for the home team. The weary legs of seven games in 14 days were evident, as races for the puck that are usually won were lost. A poor defensive change late in the first period led to a breakaway goal for the Tigers.
The second period wasn’t any better for the home team, as they were outshot 12-8 by the Tigers. Things looked dim for the White Hawks when Alex Tange scored for the Tigers with exactly 10 minutes remaining, beating a defender for the puck and firing a low shot that eluded Smith. The White Hawks began battling back but then took a penalty with five minutes remaining and trailing 2-0. But senior captain Emily Schepers made a great play to steal the puck shorthanded and fed Hules out front. Hules buried the shot and gave the home team their first shorthanded goal of the season and new life.
With the clock ticking under a minute left, Brooke Pioske weaved into the Tiger end and sent a low shot that trickled into the visitors’ goal and tied up the game. No more goals were scored, and the White Hawks escaped defeat with a 2-2 tie. Hules was awarded the Hard Hat Award for her efforts for the second consecutive game.
On Dec. 15, the White Hawks traveled north to take on the 10th-ranked Alexandria Cardinals. It was a strange game to stay the least. Eighth-grader Sydney Leonard got the White Hawks on the scoreboard with a great breakaway rush where she faked a shot and then made a move on the goalie and backhanded the shot into the net. The assist on the play went to Schepers.
After a few minutes of back-and-forth hockey, ninth-grader Kailey Niccum won a race to the puck in the Cardinal end and put a backhanded shot in the short side of the net as the goaltender anticipated a cut across the crease from Niccum. The teams went to the locker room with the White Hawks leading the game 2-0 despite being outshot 8-2.
After the coaches told the girls to shoot, shoot and shoot some more, the White Hawks came out and continued to over-pass the puck and lose out on some good scoring chances. Finally, Brooke Pioske got a pass from Burris and shot into the lower left corner of the net, with the goalie never seeing the shot due to traffic in front of the net. A couple of minutes later, Burris scored on a nice passing play from Niccum to Peterson to Burris. The visitors’ scoring continued, with Burris coming down the ice and throwing a shot on net. Eighth-grader Gretta Pioske gathered the rebound and put it in the net. The score was 5-0 after two periods.
The White Hawks killed a penalty to start the first minute and a half of the third period, and then the game went back and forth the rest of the way. The Cardinals continued to pile up shots from the point and at odd angles, but they did not get a lot of good scoring opportunities. The White Hawks put the game into running time with just over two minutes to play. Schepers got a pass from Hules, gained the zone and fired a low shot on goal. Hules got a rebound chance, and then the puck rolled out to Leonard, who buried it to close out the scoring. The Hard Hat Award went to Leonard for her efforts in the game.
This week the White Hawks travel to Litchfield on Tuesday, Dec. 18, for a Wright County Conference game. Saturday, Dec. 22, is Alumni Day. All MWHS/W-M/SWC alumni players are admitted free to the games against Hopkins/St. Louis Park, and 20 minutes after the varsity game, the alumni game will be played. All former players who played in the past 21 seasons and finished their careers as White Hawks are invited to participate.