Whenever one sees athletes working well together as team, they really appreciate the game. If you are old enough the axiom Tinkers to Evers to Chance comes to mind. These three major league baseball players formed one of the best double-play combinations in baseball history. Their teamwork on the field was so good that over time the phase linking their names has become an accepted way of describing great teamwork in all sports.
One of Saturday’s U16 Tier I National semifinals at the USA International Hockey Cup matched the OS Minnesota Selects against the Lake Superior Stars. The matchup essentially pitted a team of Twin Cities girls (OS) against a team of outstate girls (the Stars). The Stars were thought to be from the Duluth/North Shore area. That turned out to be a wrong idea. The Stars were more from all over the state which made the game even more interesting, a Maroon versus Gold throw back to when the high schools would end their season playing an all-star game matching a Twin City team against an out state team.
The first seven minutes of the opening period just dragged by. Both teams were hesitant and cautious in moving the puck. What attack either team tried to generate quickly dissipated. It took an OS roughing penalty at the 10 minute mark to finally got the teams rolling. On the power play, the Stars gained control of the puck in the OS zone and maintained the attack for most of the power play, but failed to score. OS killed the penalty, but couldn’t launch a sustained counter attack. The Stars kept the pressure on OS. Late in the period, the Star’s Anna Carmen picked up the puck off the end boards behind the OS net and fed Reilly Fawcett on the right side of the net. Fawcett’s initial shot was stopped, but she followed the puck and banged in the rebound to give the Stars a 1-0 lead. The goal came with just 4 seconds left in the first period.
The second period opened with the Stars passing game and positioning on the ice working at full speed. Still, the Stars could not score. They put the puck in the net on a play from the slot at the 14 minute mark, but the goal was denied (in the third period, the refs would call off another goal). With 12 minutes left in the second, the Stars drew a tripping penalty. Fifteen seconds later, OS’s Sheala Osborne scored unassisted to tie the score 1-1. That score got the OS team rolling and for the next 8 minutes both teams played well with the Stars passing game and positioning matched against the OS forwards in the offensive corners.
The key play of the game came after a 4 on 4 situation, at the 4 minute mark, ended. The Stars didn’t transition to the power play well. OS’s Anna Barger ceased the opportunity and beat the goalie on a wraparound shot to give OS a 2-1 lead. Barger’s shorthanded goal was unassisted. The second period ended with OS in front 2-1.
The third period was the barn burner. It started fast with the Star’s Fawcett getting her second goal of the game from the slot at the 14 minute mark to tie the game 2-2. Lauren Norgren got the assist. OS came back to take the lead when Osborne picked up an errant clearing attempt by the Stars just inside the Stars blue line and fired a shot toward the Stars net. The puck was deflected left in the slot area and ended up in the net. OS led 3-2. It was OS’s third unassisted goal of the game. Less than a minute later, the Stars tied the game. Norgren broke into the slot going right to left and fired on the net. OS’s goalie, Britta Lund made the stop but the puck rebounded to the right to the Star’s Emma Dieckman who beat the diving Lund on the weak side. Game tied 3-3. Thirty seconds later, a second Star goal was denied.
At the 9 minute mark, OS scored the game winner. An errant Stars pass was converted into a rush on the Stars net. OS’s Lindsey Harris beat the Stars goalie from the slot to give the OS a 4-3 lead and end the scoring. OS went defensive after that score and the Stars dominated in the waning minutes of the third period, but couldn’t score.
It was a good game with a number of good plays made by both teams. Both goalies were tested and came up with good stops, but the passing game of the Stars was exceptional. When asked after the game where the Stars were from, Coach Jamie Reed rattled of a list of Minnesota towns from Proctor to Northwest Minnesota to Fergus Falls. The Stars don’t practice, they just play in tournaments. As to their great teamwork, Coach Reed shrugged his shoulders, thought for a moment, and yelled out “great recruiting”.
When three of the Star’s girls, Hanna Erickson, Lauren Norgren, and Reilly Fawcett, were asked if they played together somehow in the past years, they haven’t. Hanna Erickson comes from Pequot Lakes and plays hockey for six months out of the year for the North American Hockey Academy (Red) out of Stowe Vermont. The NAHA Red team plays in the Junior Women’s Hockey League. As a sophomore, Hanna scored 15 points in 51 games last season. Lauren Norgren led her Fergus Falls High School team in scoring last year with 28 points (17 goals) and is a tough aggressive player. Reilly Fawcett is a play maker and goal scorer. She played for Proctor/Hermantown last season scoring 17 points (9 goals).
So how do three players that have no common hockey experience except to show up at these games play so well together, not just passing but positioning them during the play. Maybe Coach Reed is right. Great recruiting.