By Bob Kuehl
The Mound Westonka/Watertown-Mayer/Southwest Christian girls hockey team faced a very formidable task in returning from a state-mandated health quarantine. With only three days to prepare, the White Hawks hosted sixth-ranked South St. Paul at Thaler Arena on Feb. 20. The host team ended up with a 2-1 victory. The Saturday matinee was a very entertaining game with strong performances from both teams.
The first period had only six stoppages in play, resulting in both teams exhausted as they headed off to their locker rooms for the intermission break with no scoring yet in the game. The White Hawks had a 7-5 shot advantage.
The White Hawks struck first early in the second period when Ellie Schmid deflected in a Montana Courneya shot from the left point. Courneya shot after a drop pass from Sydney Leonard. The Packers would respond with a shot of their own from the point through traffic in front of MWHS goalie Callie Nelson. A defensive miscue left the point open, and she took advantage of it and fired a hard, low shot. The score would remain 1-1 through the rest of the second period despite each team having good scoring chances. The White Hawks again outshot the Packers in the second period, this time 13-10.
The message between periods was to continue firing shots on goal while staying home in the defensive zone and not chasing the puck.
Just 1:19 into the third period, Sydney Leonard took a pass from her sister Taylor and sped down the left wing past the defender and fired a wrist shot into the net. Courneya also assisted on the goal. The White Hawks would make the goal stand up, as they did a very good job defensively in the third period, only allowing the visitors five shots. They did manage eight shots on goal for a game advantage of 28-20. Callie Nelson was strong again in goal and really helped out by the five defenders: Brooke Pioske, Taylor Leonard, Emily Wendorf, Natalie Mineroo and Montana Courneya. They were outstanding handling the puck and getting it out of the zone and not allowing the Packer forwards rebound chances.
This week, the White Hawks celebrate Senior Night on Thursday, Feb. 25, as they host Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato. Between the JV and varsity games, Mya Coley, Brittney Davis, Avery Finck, Jenna Brustad, Grace Peterson, Callie Nelson, Brooke Pioske and Taylor Leonard will be honored. This group has been rock solid for the White Hawks on and off the ice, compiling a 57-25 record these past four seasons and being very instrumental to the state tournament run in 2019. Pioske actually was on the 2017 state tournament team as well. They are a group that the coaches are very proud of.
Saturday, Feb. 27, the White Hawks will then host No. 1-rated Chisago Lakes at Thaler. Game time is 7 p.m. It should be another great week of hockey.