One period after Haley Hjort scored the go-ahead goal for the St. Cloud Icebreakers Tuesday night, she took a penalty that provided Sartell/Sauk Rapids a quality chance to knot the score.
Hjort was called for tripping with 3:01 remaining in the third period, but the Icebreakers held their ground on the penalty kill.
St. Cloud added an empty-net goal by Megan Milroy and hung on for the 4-2 win in a Central Lakes Conference girls hockey game at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
“It was one big opportunity for them. They knew it was probably their one shot,” said Alexie Portz, an Icebreakers captain, on the first penalty kill unit.
“We kept our sticks on their sticks and didn’t allow many shots. We made sure if we were able to get the puck out of the zone, we did it.”
The win was St. Cloud’s first against the Storm’N Sabres since a 1-0 victory in the 2011 section quarterfinals.
Sartell/Sauk Rapids had won seven straight regular season games in the series going back to Nov. 2009.
“They had our number for the past few years so it’s nice to get that monkey off our back,” St. Cloud coach Mark Chamernick said.
“Ever since we merged with St. Cloud Tech (in 2009), they’ve been our crosstown rival.”
St. Cloud moves to 4-0 in the CLC and 6-1-1 overall. The Icebreakers haven’t lost since it opened with a 5-2 loss to Holy Family Catholic.
The Storm’N Sabres had also been unbeaten since their season opener and fall to 4-1 in the CLC and 6-2-1 overall.
“We had a couple chances to tie it up but a couple mistakes earlier turned into goals for them,” Sartell/Sauk Rapids coach Marty Anderson said.
“The whole third period, we carried the play and did the things we wanted to do but we couldn’t get one to drop.”
Sam Eisenreich put the Icebreakers on the board with a shorthanded goal 2:31 into the game but consecutive goals by Lexi Holman in the first and second periods put Sartell/Sauk Rapids up 2-1.
Holman tied the game when teammate Sarah Kaschmitter fed her from behind the goal and Holman tapped the puck in midway through the first period.
Five minutes into the second, she came off the bench and skated to the middle of the ice where Amanda Flemming connected with her on an outlet pass.
Holman had no St. Cloud defenders to beat, faked out St. Cloud goaltender and former Storm’N Sabres goalie Allie Rosenkrans and backhanded the puck into the net.
“Allie used to play with us so I know where her weaknesses are,” said Holman, who has seven goals this season. “I basically looked to see where she was going and go the opposite way.”
Rosenkrans had 19 saves in the win.
Sartell/Sauk Rapids goalie Clare Minnerath stopped 24 shots, but the sophomore couldn’t stop a deflected puck last touched by Allie Cornelius with 6:18 to go in the second period.
Another wrister, this time by Hjort, found its way through Minnerath’s pads and across the goal line with 24 seconds before the second intermission.
The Storm’N Sabres were 9-for-31 on the power play going into the most recent opportunity with three minutes on the clock Tuesday.
St. Cloud was 9-for-12 on the penalty kill going in.
“We told our girls to get in the shot lanes because they have some horses back on the point that can shoot the puck,” Chamernick said.
“We blocked some shots and a lot of their shots went wide.”
Holman ripped a slapshot off the outside of the right post early in the power play and Caitlin Halupczok attempted to stuff a wraparound.
Aside from those opportunities, the Icebreakers kept the Storm’N Sabres from getting the puck close to the goal area.
“The plan was to get the puck to the net and get as many rebounds and second chances as we could,” Holman said. “But the puck just didn’t bounce our way.”