It has been a busy start to the girls hockey season for Cloquet-Esko-Carlton. So while other teams are heading off to holiday tournaments, Courtney Olin's team will do the opposite.
For the second straight season, the Lumberjacks don't have a holiday tournament.
"I don't think we mind that," Olin said. "We had a lot of games at the start of the season and now is the time when those little injuries start to make themselves known. So to have an opportunity to get the players some rest is a good thing."
CEC ran its winning streak to three games and its overall record to 9-3-0 with a 4-3 win at St. Francis/North Branch on Tuesday, Dec. 18.
Taylor Nelson picked up a pair of goals including the game winner at the 6:36 mark of the third period, to stake CEC to a 4-2 advantage. Dea DeLeon and Dana Jones scored the other goals for the Lumberjacks, who got 14 saves on 17 shots from Elise Lund in goal.
CEC dominated the shot board, with a 43-17 advantage on the night, including a 15-2 advantage in the first period and 21-7 in the second.
"I was happy with how we shot the puck and got to the net," Olin said. "We've seen real improvement from the girls throughout the season in that area and we're scoring some goals."
It was the team's first game since an important 3-1 win at Heritage Arena against the Duluth Northern Stars one week prior. The team is off for two full weeks before playing again Jan. 3, also against the Northern Stars, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.
"Well, our January schedule has us playing just about every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the second half and it's a difficult schedule," Olin said.
Just four of the team's remaining 12 regular season games are at home, with a series of five straight road games right in the middle of the mix that will keep the team off home ice from Jan. 8-24.
"We have a tough road ahead," Olin said. "But our goal, as always, is to get better each game, compete each game and be at our best in February."
Nelson's 24 points, including 14 goals, lead the team in scoring, with Kiana Bender (8-13-21) and DeLeon (4-12-16) following close behind. Lund (9-3-0, 1.73 GAA, 91.5 save percentage, 2 shutouts) has played every minute of the season in goal.
After the Duluth game Jan. 3, CEC is at Ashland on Jan. 5 and home against Superior on Jan. 8.