Eagan's Jenna Ruiz (10) scores the game-winning goal on Thursday night against Farmington.
Eagan's Jenna Ruiz didn’t have to wait long for her chance to play overtime hero for the second time this season.
With just 1:06 to play in the extra session of Thursday night’s South Suburban Conference battle against Farmington, Ruiz swept home her 16th goal of the season, giving the Wildcats the win after finally solving an aggressive and stifling Tiger defense.
“Once we were set up (in the Farmington zone) we were fine,” Ruiz said of her game-winning tally. “We just needed to get more shots. That was a perfect shot by Emily, and it was easy to put it away,” Ruiz added.
Ruiz's first overtime-winner for the Wildcats came earlier this month in a 2-1 victory over Lakeville South.
The goal came on a rare overtime power play, and in an instance where Eagan coach Dan Wilson opted not to call a timeout to rest his top line.
“They were having their number one line against out number two line the entire game,” Wilson said. “I was fine with that. It just meant that our number one line was against their number two line, so that was a trade-off in that respect.”
Line-matching aside, the Tigers (11-11-2, 8-7-2) held the conference-champion Wildcats to just 22 shots in nearly four periods of play, a testament to the grit and tenacity of the young lineup.
“I give Farmington a lot of credit, they’re a quality team,” Wilson said. “They’ve got a couple of players that have put up big numbers, so I knew it was going to be a tight game,” Wilson added, also mentioning that the Tigers could very well be Class 2A, Section 1’s representative at the state tournament.
Ryleigh Furlong stopped 21 of 22 shots for Farmington in Thursday's overtime loss.
In addition to the Tigers’ shutdown plan of attack, the Wildcats, ranked No. 7 in the latest Youth Hockey Hub Class 2A Staff Rankings, can attribute some of their slow start to the two-headed monster of team-wide illness and the recent weather forcing the Wildcats out of their typical weekday routines.
“We kind of went through a rough stretch there for a couple of weeks where we were really sick,” Wilson said. “I canceled practice one day because there were six girls who were out sick that day.”
“We haven’t had school all week, so sleeping in and getting us off our regular schedule and stuff like that,” Ruiz said when asked about the sluggish first and second periods.
Through it all, Ruiz, an all-conference pick last season, managed to play virtually every other shift for the Wildcats (19-5, 15-2), not a rarity according to Wilson.
“Sometimes we’ve gotta drag her off the ice,” Wilson said with a grin. “She works tremendously hard for us.”
Ashley Larson earned the shutout for Eagan with 27 saves.