By Bob Kuehl
The Mound Westonka/Watertown-Mayer/Southwest Christian girls hockey team saw its season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the state tournament when they lost to Chisago Lakes by a score of 4-3. The game was as close as the score, as both teams battled hard and had a number of solid scoring chances.
The White Hawks jumped out to the lead at the 6:23 mark of the first period when sophomore defenseman Emily Wendorf’s wrist shot from the point found the upper corner of the net. Fellow sophomores Sydney Leonard and Gretta Pioske assisted on the goal. Chisago would tie the game 1-1 just a minute and a half later when Dani Burgen scored off a behind the back pass from line mate and fellow all-state player Jenny Lawry. The first period would end 1-1 with the White Hawks having an 8-3 shot advantage.
The second period was the best period of the night for the No. 5-seeded White Hawks, as they would score the first two goals of the period. At the 8:34 mark, Gretta Pioske would knock the puck into the net after an outstanding play by Sydney Leonard where she patiently waited for the goalie to make her move and then slid the puck behind her into the crease. Camryn Hargreaves hit the puck and then Pioske buried it. Leonard would then score at the 9:51 mark on a rebound. Montana Courneya and Gretta Pioske would garner assists.
Chisago Lakes would score a few minutes later when they would get an odd man rush on a MWHS miscue. The first shot from Lawry hit the pipe, but the puck went straight out to Burgen, who buried it.
The final period wasn’t kind to the White Hawks as they took three penalties and were thrown off of their game because of it. It seemed to wear the girls out and Chisago Lakes was able to take advantage of it. Burgen finished off her hat trick at 10:10 with a goal caused by the White Hawks fumbling the puck around in their own zone. Then Lawry scored on a power play with only six and a half minutes left in the game to put the White Hawks behind for the first time all night. Despite their best efforts they couldn’t get the equalizer. A penalty enabled the White Hawk power play unit to take the ice with less than two minutes left. The decision was made not to pull the goalie until the one minute mark because the Wildcats would be able to ice the puck due to being a player short. Another time out with less than a minute left gave time to put in a face off play. The play worked as planned except the White Hawk shot hit the pipe and bounced away from the net with 18 seconds remaining and there wouldn’t be another shot on goal.
The White Hawks ended their season with a 14-3 record and with wins over South St. Paul, Orono, and others. Seven seniors played their final game for MWHS and they will be greatly missed. Jenna Brustad, Brittney Davis, Avery Finck, Callie Nelson, and tri-captains Taylor Leonard, Grace Peterson and Brooke Pioske all suited up for their final game as White Hawks. They had played in three consecutive Section finals, winning two of them. They were also solid in the classroom and were the Section 2A Academic champions. A very fine group of young ladies who set the bar very high for our program.
Next season there will be several new faces in the lineup joining returning regulars Sydney Leonard, Gretta Pioske, Camryn Hargreaves, Ellie Schmid and Greer Hardacre up front. Montana Courneya and Emily Wendorf will anchor the blue line with Natalie Miner and Sage Finck expected to play much bigger roles. They have already begun working to get back to state in 2022 and keep the strong White Hawk girls hockey tradition going.
Thank you to the parents, fans and the entire Westonka hockey community for their support throughout this COVID-19 challenging season.