The Sartell/Sauk Rapids Storm’N Sabres got one crack at the power play Thursday night and certainly made the most of it.
Amanda Flemming fired home the game-winner at 4:32 of overtime to lift Sartell/Sauk Rapids past the St. Cloud Icebreakers, 3-2 at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
“It worked very good,” Flemming said of the power play.
It also is new. Sartell/Sauk Rapids switched to a different lineup and changed their power play because of its prior ineffectiveness.
“We switched it up not too long ago,” Flemming said. “It’s been better since we switched it up.”
“We’ve got a lot more shots since we went to it,” junior defenseman Megan Mohr said.
Mohr had one of the assists on the game-winner. She got a nice pass from Kaelyn Syzmanski, then made a perfect pass to Flemming, who was just to goalie Emily Musielewicz’s right.
Flemming stuffed it home in an exciting, well-played game that had a playoff atmosphere. It featured two of the top teams in the Central Lakes Conference and perhaps Section 8-2A.
“There was a lot of solid defensive play tonight,” Sartell/Sauk Rapids head coach Marty Anderson said. “There were some quality scoring chances.
“Both goalies played really well. This game is always going to be close. These games are always one-goal.”
Sartell/Sauk Rapids (5-1 Central Lakes, 8-3 overall) took a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Junior defenseman Megan Cook took a hard shot from the blue line that ricocheted off two players before scooting past Musielewicz, who didn’t move. It was unassisted and came at 10:27.
It gave Sartell/Sauk Rapids a 1-0 lead even though St. Cloud out-shot the Storm’N Sabres 10-7 after the first period.
“They (the Icebreakers) always come out hard and ready to play,” Cook said.
“They were definitely moving their feet,” Mohr said.
St. Cloud (4-2, 7-3) tied it up in the second period. Senior forward Amber Klein buried home a close-range shot at 13:21 for her first goal of the season. That made it 1-1.
It stayed that way as both teams played crisply and cleanly.
“It was a playoff kind of game,” St. Cloud head coach Nick Thibault said. “It was a good experience for us and will help us down the road.”
Both goalies had strong games. Musielewicz, a sophomore, wound up with 24 saves. Clare Minnerath, the Storm’N Sabres senior goalie headed to Providence next year, made 27 saves.
Each had big stops in regulation. In overtime, it was even until a tripping call at 3:45. Out came Sartell/Sauk Rapids’ power play.
“We were hoping we’d get a a chance to use it finally,” Anderson said.
Flemming, a senior forward, scored her team-leading 11th goal.
“Our penalty kill has been pretty lights out all season,” Thibault said. “We had a minor breakdown and they capitalized.
“That was a great shot (by Flemming). You’ve got to tip your hat to her.”
Anderson, meanwhile, was extremely pleased with his defense, noting that St. Cloud’s top scoring line of Allie Cornelius, Gabbie Rud and Sophia McCann was held scoreless. Cornelius is one of the top goal-scorers in the state. Her 15 goals ties her for ninth in the state, according to Minnesota Girls Hockey Hub.
Anderson, too, felt like there was a playoff feel to the game, noting that Mohr’s pass to Fleming had a “next-level” feel to it.
All of that means that Sartell/Sauk Rapids is still one loss behind Alexandria in the conference standings and very much in contention for a top seed in the section.
St. Cloud, meanwhile, is right there and chasing the Storm’N Sabres and Alex.
St. Cloud and Sartell/Sauk Rapids have a rematch that could have a lot on the line. St. Cloud plays the Storm’N Sabres at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 26 at Bernick’s Arena in Sartell.
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.