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Prep girls hockey: Fast start lifts South St. Paul over CEC

The Packers scored just over a minute into the contest before breaking through twice more in the opening period.

Forward scores
South St. Paul's Sarah Wincentsen scores the team's third goal during a game against Cloquet-Esko-Carlton on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CLOQUET — An early-season test against perennial powerhouse South St. Paul proved too great of a challenge for a young Cloquet-Esko-Carlton girls hockey team.

The eighth-ranked Packers opened the scoring a little over a minute into the contest before lighting the lamp twice more in the first period to defeat CEC 3-0 on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena.

Packers head coach Dave Palmquist identified the fast start as one of the keys to their success.

“Every game we talk about coming out strong, especially coming up here in Cloquet (against a) good hockey team here up north,” Palmquist said. “We wanted to get off to a fast start tonight, and our girls got those three in the first period and that was really key tonight.”

Players fight for position
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's Gwen Lilly battles with South St. Paul's Annie Felton during a game on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

After the lopsided opening period, the ‘Jacks kept the Packers off the board for the remaining 34 minutes of play. CEC coach Kennedy Houge said the team began to play with more confidence as the game went on.

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“I think as the game progressed we really started to find our rhythm, and obviously that reflected on the scoreboard,” Houge said. “We shut them down in the second and third periods, and if only we could’ve started the same way, we could’ve maybe had a different outcome in the game.”

The unbeaten Packers wasted little time generating pressure in the CEC defensive zone with a flurry of chances in the opening minute of play. Junior forward Eva Beck ultimately found the back of the net on the team’s third shot to open the scoring.

Player tries to settle puck
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's Brayley Merrier tries to settle the puck for a shot during a game against South St. Paul on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

CEC goaltender Araya Kiminski stood tall with multiple quality stops in the aftermath of the opening tally, as the 1-0 score stood until the latter half of the period.

Kiminski went on to finish the contest with 17 saves on 20 shots, including 15 saves over the final two periods in what was a strong performance for the senior.

“I never have to worry about her effort. She comes ready to go day in and day out, and she knows what it takes to keep our team in the game and I commend her for that all the time,” Houge said. “I never have to second guess her, that’s for sure.”

Goalie makes save
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton goaltender Araya Kiminski makes a save during a game against South St. Paul on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Despite Kiminski's best efforts, the visitors struck again at the 10:18 mark with a goal on the power play, as Lily Pachl found a shooting lane in the high slot to make it 2-0. The sophomore defenseman later added an assist on the team’s final goal by Sarah Wincentsen at even strength.

The Lumberjacks were held to just six shots on goal in what was an uphill battle against the defensively-sound Packers, who have yet to surrender a goal in three games played.

Puck battle
Cloquet-Esko-Carlton's Emily Litchke tries to free the puck from the boards during a game against South St. Paul on Friday, Nov. 18, at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

“I think they’re being very disciplined in what we’re trying to do. They’re keeping people back,” Palmquist said of the team’s early shutout streak. “We’re not getting caught in odd-man situations, and we’re not giving up breakaways, two-on-ones, odd-man rushes and that’s really been the key to our success is keeping the other teams to the outside and not getting easy breaks.”

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The Packers finished the contest 1-for-3 on the power play, while the 'Jacks went 0-for-3.

CEC (0-2) will look to bounce back Saturday, Nov. 19, when they play host to Bloomington Jefferson for a 3 p.m. start.

Related Topics: CLOQUET-ESKO-CARLTON
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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