EVELETH — The Golden Bears girls’ hockey team got off to a bit of a slow start Friday night, but quickly turned things around to roar past Northern Lakes, 6-4.
Eveleth-Gilbert Area used goals from six different girls and 20 saves from netminder Rachel Woods to notch the late-season victory at the Hippodrome.
The Lightning got on the board just 22 seconds into the contest on a goal by Arianna Lemieur, but the Bears answered back three minutes later when Anneka Lundgren took her own rebound and beat Northern Lakes netminder Kate Stephens glove side for a 1-1 tie.
The Lightning struck quickly to retake a 2-1 lead on Caitlyn Gutzman’s tally 31 seconds later.
The Golden Bears didn’t let the deficit bother them as they put together some nice scoring chances and also knocked Northern Lakes off the puck several times.
The work paid off for the home team when Gregorich found the back of the net with a power play goal at the 9:19 mark, which tied the game up again at 2-2.
The Bears took their first lead after successfully killing off a two-minute penalty. Back at full strength, Kendra Rosati collected a turnover at the blue line and went top shelf past Stephens for the 3-2 advantage late in the first.
Despite starting out slow, E-G head coach Earl Fitzgerald said his team responded to the Lightning goals each time in the first. He said that kind of sparked his club and helped them get their feet under them.
At the first intermission, Fitzgerald encouraged his team to get tougher in the defensive zone. “We just needed to cover better in front of our net. They were getting too many opportunities in tight on us.’’
In addition, “we just needed to get pucks to their net. We were taking too many shots from the perimeter. We needed to get in tighter and get some quality shots.’’
The Bears let Northern Lakes tie it at 3-3 on Hayden Boelter’s goal before Eveleth-Gilbert got down to business.
Seventy seconds later, Sophia Flatley took the rebound on Anna Seitz’s shot to give the Bears the lead for good at 4-3. About 1 1/2 minutes later, Kylie Baranzelli lit the lamp for a 5-3 lead for the home team. The Bears added another goal as Jennie Krause seemingly harmlessly shot the puck at the net and it slipped between the goalie’s pads to make it a 6-3 game late in the second.
Northern Lakes made it a 6-4 contest early in the third period, but Woods came up big as she stopped some point-blank shots to preserve the victory.
“She made some really nice saves in the third,’’ the coach said. “They did have a couple of quality shots on the door step,’’ but Woods made really nice pad saves on them. “We were pleased with her performance tonight too.’’
Fitzgerald liked seeing six different girls light the lamp, as well.
“We were trying to get more players on the ice ... to get everybody involved in the game tonight. I think we did a pretty good job with that. We’re happy with the win tonight. Hopefully we come out tomorrow (Saturday) and continue to play the way we played and finished tonight.’’
The same two teams will play again at 2:30 p.m. today at the Hippodrome. The doubleheader was set up earlier in the season after Pequot Lakes disbanded its program, Fitzgerald said, and E-G was looking to pick up a game.
The coach sees it as an advantage they play again so quickly.
“We already know which players to key on and how to play them. I think we’ll come out strong tomorrow.’’
Eveleth-Gilbert Area improved to 7-12-1 with the win, while Northern Lakes fell to 10-12. After today’s game, only two more regular season contests remain for the Golden Bears.
Northern Lakes 2 1 1 — 4
Eveleth-Gilbert 3 3 0 — 6
First period: 1, NL, Arianna Lemieur (Alyssa Kosloski), :22; 2, EG, Anneka Lundgren (Sydni Richards, Kylie Baranzelli), 3:24; 3, NL, Caitlyn Gutzman (Hayden Boelter, Kosloski), 3:55; 4, EG, Autumn Gregorich (Baranzelli, Lundgren), 9:19; 5, EG, Kendra Rosati (Sydney Fitzgerald0, 15:21.
Second period: 6, NL, Boelter (Kosloski), 5:00; 7, EG, Sophia Flatley (Anna Seitz), 6:10; 8, EG, Baranzelli (Gregorich), 6:44; 9, EG, Jennie Krause (unassisted).
Third period: 10, NL, Riley Fogarty (Rose Aldridge, Ella Peterson), 3:09.
Saves: Rachel Woods, EG, 8-4-8—20; Kate Stephens, NL, 7-3-6—16.
Penalties: EG, 3-for-6 minutes; NL, 3-for-6 minutes.