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CEC girls score big victory against Wayzata

WAYZATA, Minn. - It was the kind of win that every team needs. The CEC girls hockey team went to the Twin Cities last Friday night and picked up a very big win over a very big team - Wayzata. First-period goals from Sadie Lundquist and Courtney E...

WAYZATA, Minn. - It was the kind of win that every team needs.

The CEC girls hockey team went to the Twin Cities last Friday night and picked up a very big win over a very big team - Wayzata. First-period goals from Sadie Lundquist and Courtney Esse powered the Jacks to a 2-1 victory over one of the state's largest programs.

"They have a huge program there," CEC coach Dick Bartholdi said. "They are among the top three programs in the state in terms of girls skating in the youth programs, so to go there and win was great for us."

With the section playoffs starting Feb. 12, Bartholdi was still unafraid to experiment in the Wayzata game. He split the goaltending chores between juniors Sarah Gustafson and Nicole Lund.

"Some people probably thought I was nuts to change goaltenders because we had a shutout going," Bartholdi said. "But I wanted to look at [Lund] against a good team, since she has had trouble with injuries."

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Lund, who missed most of last season with a leg injury and has missed time this season due to a mild concussion, finished out the game as the 'Jacks skated to victory. It was a quality win against yet another quality opponent.

"We play a very difficult schedule, but we do that on purpose," Bartholdi explained. "We beat some really good teams this season including winning Andover's Christmas tournament. Our section is also tough and we have to get ready for it."

One of those tough section games was Wednesday night as this edition went to press. CEC played Grand Rapids, which dismissed highly-rated Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall earlier this week, in a rematch of an overtime loss suffered earlier this season.

"We've got four teams in our section that are very good, and we're ranked fourth out of those four," Bartholdi said. "Duluth has a very good team as well, which went up to Warroad and beat them 1-0. Warroad is always good and even has a Canadian girl playing for them this season, according to Duluth's coach."

Yet, as the old expression says, now is the time for CEC to find out what it's made of.

"The northern teams are going to butt heads in the tournament," Bartholdi said. "The teams are deciding now how they want to play and determining what they might need to change."

CEC has skated three lines for much of the season and, like many girls teams, has one top line that is capable of dominating play. The line of Lundquist, Courtney Esse and Melissa Clark has been CEC's best, but Bartholdi knows that in the playoffs, skating with a short bench invites trouble.

"We have been running three lines almost exclusively," he said. "Some teams are skating two. Most of the better teams' first lines are really good, and the second and third are good at skating and defense, but they don't tend to score as much. We are dedicating ourselves this month in practice to trying to develop scoring from the other two lines."

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