Revenge is sweet: CEC blanks Blaine, SuperiorThe Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team has had enough of moral victories. They needed some real ones, and last week they came in the best way possible.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team has had enough of moral victories. They needed some real ones, and last week they came in the best way possible.
The ’Jacks posted back-to-back shutouts of Blaine on Thursday and Superior on Monday to improve to 6-6-1 on the season.
In the 5-0 blanking of Superior, Kalie Shevich scored twice for the ’Jacks and Emily Gustafson added a goal and two assists for CEC. Carley Esse and Jessie Ryan scored the other goals for the ’Jacks, while Alyssa Acheson and Katie Beckman shared the shutout in goal. Superior managed only six shots on goal in the game while the ’Jacks fired 39 at Superior goaltender Mikayla Pitt.
“Superior has a young team,” coach Mike Bushey said. “They are a little inexperienced and for us, that kind of game is all about playing as well as you can, doing the right things and not getting into situations where you feel you are a better team and create bad habits.”
After a steady diet of Twin Cities opposition, Bushey feels his team is honed for the games to come.
“I think the schedule pays off,” he said. “The kids play to a certain level when we play Stillwater, Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Eden Prairie. They play at a high level, and that teaches us to do the same whether practicing or playing games. Those kinds of habits carry over into any game that you play.”
CEC got a significant boost on Thursday by beating Blaine 2-0. The ’Jacks had lost to the Bengals in the recent Eden Prairie holiday tournament and the revenge was sweet.
“The kids played well,” Bushey said. “It was a very good game. We needed a win like that.”
Caitlin Lilly scored 1:22 into the game for the ’Jacks. That lead held up all the way to the end of the game when Lilly hit an empty net with 16 seconds to play to seal the victory.
Beckman posted the shutout, stopping all 21 shots she faced for the win.
“The shutout is a good thing too,” Bushey said. “We have two sophomore goalies, we got our first shutout for the season on Thursday and now we have two. That was important to them. I’m hoping our goalies can step up and play to the best of their ability.”
Bushey said the important element for his players now is to take what they’ve learned in the first half of the season and translate it into success in the second.
“The biggest thing is that our kids, in most of the games we played, felt like we were competitive,” he said. “The goal now is to play solid defensively and take advantage of their opportunities. We can win those games and you need to win some of those games (that the team had lost earlier).”
While the team’s difficult Twin Cities schedule has helped with the level of play, wins are, of course, handy to have too.
“This is the time of year we are asking the players to take care of their own end first,” Bushey said. “We need to play solid offensively but perfect defensively. Then we can start winning more games.”
Bushey has the season divided into two halves.
“The beginning part of any season is about learning, and the second half is application of what you’ve learned,” he said. “We have to apply it. I’m happy with how things are going in that regard.”
To spark that success, Bushey is looking for senior leadership.
“The seniors have done an outstanding job,” he said. “We expect them to rise to every occasion and the game against Blaine was a perfect example of our younger kids being led by the older ones. Hopefully that continues along, because we rely on them.”
CEC’s next game is Saturday night at White Bear Lake.