Packers girls hockey team runs out of chances in season ending loss to Northfield

Published 10:38 pm Friday, February 12, 2010

NORTHFIELD — The Packers were knocking on the door all night, but Northfield was not letting them in.

The No. 4 seeded Raiders (8-16-1 overall) ended No. 5 Austin’s season with a 2-1 win in the first round of the Section 1A tournament Friday night.

The Packers (11-12-2 overall) were shorthanded for the last two minutes of the game, but they had a golden opportunity to force overtime when Kennedy Thompson and Ashley Arhart broke free on a two-on-one with one minute left.

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Thompson pulled off a deke move, but she was denied by Northfield’s Sam Stark, who had 23 saves.

“We almost got a goal there,” Austin head coach Denny Bray said. “Kennedy did the right thing, she forced Stark out of the net so she could work around her and Stark made a heck of a save.”

Arhart trailed on the play and almost had a chance to knock it in on the rebound.

“It is what it is, I tried and we’ll just have to wait until next year,” said Thompson, who opened the game by scoring a breakaway goal on Stark in the opening minute. “It was close and a wide open net for Arhart, but she was a just a couple of seconds late.”

The Packers had two other open net chances earlier in the game on put-back opportunities, but they couldn’t quite get their timing down to convert them. Austin had a five-on-three power play for a minute and a half at the end of the second period, but couldn’t knock one in.

“The girls skated with a lot of heart tonight and we had our chances,” Bray said. The puck just didn’t go our way, Northfield also had chances to pull away and the puck didn’t go their way. It was two very good teams playing each other.”

Northfield took the lead for good in the second period when they swarmed the net and Morgan Hubers powered in a put-back score past Austin goalie Audrey DeVries, who had 30 saves.

Northfield tied the game at one a little over a minute after Thompson put the Packers on top in the first period when Katie Jirik lobbed a slap-shot over DeVries’ shoulder.

Thompson, a freshman, wasn’t fazed by scoring in a playoff game and she felt her squad played well.

“It wasn’t different than any other game. It was just a goal,” she said. “I think we were more ready to play than they were. They just had some good shooters and a lucky shot for their first goal.”

While the Packers scored five goals on Stark in a 5-5 tie in the season opener with Northfield, Bray knew Northfield’s goalie wouldn’t look so rusty on Friday night against the Packers.

‘Stark’s been one of the top goalies in the state for the last couple of years,” he said. “I told the girls we’re not going to see the same goalie that we saw in that first game. Our plan was to stick the puck to the net and attack. She did a good job of covering the puck and their defense did a good job on limiting our second chances.”

While the team will graduate DeVries and defensemen Alix Borland and Ashley Crump, Bray is happy with the squad he has coming back as five Packers scored in the range of 23-37 points this season. He also thinks Austin proved some doubters wrong this season.

“A lot of people underestimated us and they thought we’d have five or six wins and that was it. A lot of the coaches at the conference meeting were surprised with how well we did,” Bray said.

Austin 1 0 0 — 1

Northfield 1 1 0 — 2

First period

(A) 1:06 Kennedy Thompson

(N) 2:29 Katie Jirik

Second period

(N) 7:12 Morgan Hubers (Annie Pumper)

Third period

No scoring

Shots on goal: Austin — 24; Northfield — 32

Power plays: Austin — 0-for-3; Northfield — 0-for-4