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'Jacks tie Rebels, but fall to Lightning

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goaltender Elise Lund makes a save on Moose Lake Area's Lauren Pederson during last Tuesday's hockey game in Moose Lake. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal1 / 3
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's Taylor Nelson drives the puck to the net past Moose Lake Area's Jamie Benzie during a hockey game at Riverside Arena. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal2 / 3
Moose Lake Area goaltender Maddy Gamst makes a save on Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's Taylor Nelson during the team's 1-1 tie game at Riverside Arena. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal3 / 3

You could say the Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey game with Grand Rapids-Greenway Tuesday night was a bit bizarre.

The teams took 40 combined shots in the game — and 14 of them found the mesh in a wild 8-6 win for the visitors that dropped the Lumberjacks to 1-3-1 on the season.

"You could say it was definitely an interesting game," coach Courtney Olin said. "An offensive game."

Kiana Bender had a hat trick for CEC, while Taylor Nelson added a goal and three assists. But it wasn't enough to best the Lightning, which got four points from Madisen Drotts and two goals apiece from Claire Vekich and Mady Shaffer.

Olin was pleased with the punch her team showed, though — scoring six goals on only 16 shots on goal.

"Putting some pucks in the net is a good thing," she said. "For our team, we were proud of our offensive hockey, but we have to clean up the defensive zone. You never want to give up eight goals in a game but Grand Rapids is skilled, deep and well-coached. They would be offensively strong and we knew we would have to match it."

CEC was better defensively against Moose Lake Area in a 1-1 tie at Moose Sherrit Arena last Tuesday. The Rebels' Ruby Mohelsky's first-period goal (assisted by Lauren Pederson) was canceled by Bender's power-play goal in the third period.

"We outshot them (44-27) but then we couldn't get much to go in the net," Olin said.

CEC also had to kill two penalties during overtime but held the Rebels to only three shots on goal in the extra session. Elise Lund stopped 26 shots for CEC while Maddy Gamst stopped 43 of 44 Lumberjacks shots for MLA.

"The takeaway from all this is that we need to play better in our own end and when we do that we're OK," Olin said. "We are starting to click offensively and creating chances. We need to improve on that."

Olin had plenty of praise for the Rebels.

"They are a hardworking team," she said. "We had five power plays and tons of chances but they never quit. They work hard and will win hockey games. Whether they have numbers or not, they will compete."

CEC now plays its next six consecutive games on the road, starting with the Friday, Dec. 1, game at Holy Family-Waconia. The road stretch also includes a rematch against Grand Rapids-Greenway on Dec. 15 at the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids.

"We saw what we can be in the Spring Lake Park game (a 5-0 win Nov. 25)," Olin said. "We had five different players score goals. With each game we're improving and creating chances from multiple lines and multiple players."

Jaxie Pogorelc, Bender, Jenna Zdebski, Dea DeLeon and Nelson scored goals for CEC in that game, and held Spring Lake Park to only seven shots on goal for the game — and none in the second period.

"Offensively, we're figuring it out," Olin said. "All season, we have to work at it so we can be in the mix in February, too."