The Northern Edge girls' hockey co-op will not get a better simulation of the playoffs than it got on Monday night and the Edge knows it will have to play better when the WIAA tournament commences next Thursday.
Anna Maulson made 43 saves for the Edge but the Ice Bears were finally able to poke some pucks home late, scoring three times in the final 2 minutes, 15 seconds to defeat the Edge 3-0 at the Cornerstone Community Center in Green Bay.
The result snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Edge and gave the team an up close and personal look at the team they will see in next Thursday's regional final round. The Ice Bears drew the No. 3 seed in the seven-team sectional and will host the sixth-seeded Edge.
Though it was a 0-0 game for more than 48 minutes, Bay Area dominated the shot count to the tune of 46-8.
"The goals they had were good. Anna played really well. We didn't put a lot of shots on them. They put a lot of shots on us and we're not going to survive that way," Edge coach Tom Roeser said. "It was pretty disappointing, but I hope it knocked us back down to Earth and made us realize that we're going to have to work for these wins. We've got some tough games coming up here."
The Ice Bears finally broke through on a tally by Madison Anderson at the 14:45 mark of the third period and then tacked on two more goals in the final 36 seconds of the game. Kamdyn McCracken scored at the 16:24 mark and Anderson tacked on an empty netter with seven seconds remaining.
The No. 1 thing that stood out to Roeser was Bay Area's speed.
"I know one of their top scorers (Tessa Andrews who has 14 points on the season) was out of the lineup tonight, but they moved the puck well (and) they're fast," he said. "We know they're fast. They get up and down the ice quick and we were on an Olympic-sized sheet of ice tonight, and that wasn't helping us much either."
While there was only once significant scratch in the lineup, defender Evie LeVeque did not play, Roeser said the Edge did some things differently with personnel on Monday night, knowing his team would face Bay Area again with more on the line.
"We started out with four lines and then we knocked 'er down to three. We ran three lines the whole game, mixed it up a little bit," Roeser said. "But, to be honest with you, the way we played, I don't know if it would have mattered if we would have tried to give them our best team right there. We weren't aggressive on the puck."
Maulson was a rock for the Edge virtually the entire game, stopping 43 of the 45 shots that she faced. Roeser also credited his defense for limiting Bay Area's number of high-percentage scoring chances.
"They had a lot of shots in the first two periods, but we did a good job," he said. "Anna did not give up the rebounds. We weren't letting them shoot from real great spots on the rink. She made a lot of routine saves in those first two periods and she also made a couple of really nice saves."
The Edge (14-7-0) closes out the regular season tonight against Chippewa Falls/Menomonie at the Langlade County Multi-Purpose Building in Antigo. Roeser said the team plans to treat the contest as if it were a playoff game.
"We're going to really try to set it up like how we're going to go against (Bay Area) next week. We're going to practice that way quite a bit. We'll probably run 2 1/2 lines and just cycling (forwards) in and out," he said. "Everything right now is pretty much practice for next Thursday."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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