Lumberjacks can score under any circumstanceThe ’Jacks scored a pair of shorthanded goals in their 7-0 win over Superior Monday, giving the team eight such tallies on the season.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Most hockey teams view the idea of playing shorthanded as unfortunate. For the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team, having a player in the penalty box is no big deal.
The ’Jacks scored a pair of shorthanded goals in their 7-0 win over Superior Monday, giving the team eight such tallies on the season.
The team now has equal numbers of shorthanded goals scored (eight) and power-play goals allowed (eight) through 17 games, and nearly 15 percent of the team’s goals for the season have come with the team down at least one player.
“(Referee) Butch Glesner said he’d call more penalties against us so we could open up the ice,” Coach Lance Horvat joked.
Horvat isn’t happy with penalties, but his ’Jacks (9-6-2) are finding ways to succeed even when they’re a player short.
“We tell the players that if they have a 50 percent chance of coming up with the puck while shorthanded, they should do it,” Horvat said. “Our penalty killing is doing well.”
Four of the shorthanded goals have come off the stick of leading scorer Emily Gustafson (15 goals, 12 assists, 27 points), while three more have been scored by Carley Esse (9, 17, 26).
“This is a first,” Horvat said of his team’s prowess while shorthanded. “Nobody panics when we’re killing a penalty. We have six to eight kids that I have no problems throwing out there at any time. Any one of them can break it and go.”
The defensive-minded Spartans provided little opposition at Northwoods Credit Union Arena Monday. CEC outshot their visitors 29-19 and got a four-point night from Esse with two goals and two assists to lead the scoring. Gustafson had a goal and two assists while Mikayla Baker, Mackenzie Roy and Rachel Macaulay also scored to support Alyssa Acheson’s 19-save effort in goal.
“[Superior was] a better skating team than I thought they would be,” Horvat said. “If you ask the players they will probably think they should have scored more goals, but I’ll take a seven-goal win any time.”
One of Esse’s goals, as well as Baker’s, came while CEC was shorthanded.
The team also posted a hard-fought 2-1 win over the Duluth Northern Stars Saturday at Amsoil Arena.
Trailing 1-0 after two periods, CEC outshot their hosts 21-7 in the third, getting goals from Esse and Roy to come from behind for the win. Acheson stopped 19 of 20 Duluth shots on goal for the win.
“Duluth is a good team, and we didn’t know what to expect from them,” Horvat said. “Their goaltender (Megan Hansen) is very good but 60 to 70 percent of the play was in their end.”
As the climax of the season approaches, there are plenty of big games ahead. CEC is at White Bear Lake on Thursday and hosts Bemidji next Tuesday.
Right now, the computerized QRF rankings have the ’Jacks tops in their section, even though the seedings are still determined by coach’s votes, which will happen Feb. 4.
“We have Grand Rapids, Duluth again and Cambridge, so we have section games left,” Horvat said. “We’re hoping to pull it all out going into the playoffs. The kids are headed in the right direction, playing hard, working hard and going the right way.”