ASHWAUBENON – The streak continues.
The top-ranked Bay Area Ice Bears girls hockey team beat second-ranked University School of Milwaukee 4-1 Friday at the Cornerstone Community Center to extend their winning streak to 39 games.
Senior goalie Lindsey Strainis made a career-high 44 saves in the victory, which saw the Ice Bears get outshot 45-12.
“This feels amazing right now,” Strainis said. “You normally don’t win when you get outshot like that, but it was definitely a team effort. Everybody was cleaning up the rebounds.”
The Ice Bears (13-0) held the highest-scoring team in the state to a season-low total and well below its 7.46 goals per game average.
“It’s hard to imagine a better effort than that,” Ice Bears coach Pat Rafferty said. “We got the sense out there that whatever they threw at the net it wasn’t going to go in. I just take our hat off to Lindsey because she played outstanding.”
Strainis was particularly sharp in the second period, when the Wildcats (12-2) had a 17-2 edge in shots on goal and came up empty on two power plays.
“We gave up a lot of scoring opportunities tonight,” Rafferty said. “But I think we were able to limit the quality scoring chances. That’s a direct result of solid defensemen making it hard to get quality shots off.”
University School scored the game’s first goal with a short-handed tally by Nicole Unsworth. It was the sophomore forward’s 40th goal of the season, which leads the state.
The Ice Bears responded 16 seconds later with a power-play goal by sophomore Johanna Cano.
“I think we’ve proven over the last two years that we’re a mentally tough team, so we don’t fold when bad things happen or things get tough,” Rafferty said. “We tend to respond a lot.”
Megan Call finished with three assists, while Megan Saari totaled two goals and assists for the Ice Bears
Senior captain Courtney Wittig netted the deciding goal at the end of the first period, giving her at least one goal in each game this season.
This was the second time this season the Ice Bears have beaten University School and the fifth victory against their Eastern Shores Conference rival during their winning streak.
If Bay Area wants to repeat as the WIAA state champion, it will likely have to go through the Wildcats again at sectionals.
“There is definitely a lot of pressure because every team wants to end our streak,” said Strainis, whose team plays No. 8 Northland Pines today. “We know we’re going to get everybody’s best shot. This win gives us a lot of confidence.”
University School … 1 0 0 — 1
Bay Area … 2 0 2 — 4
First period: 1, USM, Nicole Unsworth, 40 (unassisted), 7:21 (sh); 2, BA, Johanna Cano, 6 (Megan Call, Megan Saari), 7:37 (pp); 3, BA, Courtney Wittig, 26 (unassisted), 15:11.
Third period: 4, BA, Saari, 4 (Call), 1:17; 5, BA, Saari, 5 (Call, Nicole Niemi), 15:09 (empty net).
Shots on goal: USM, 11-17-17 – 45; BA, 5-2-5 – 12.
Goalies: USM, Liz Ostermeyer (11 shots, 8 saves); Lindsey Strainis (45 shots, 44 saves).
Power plays: USM, 0-for-3; BA, 1-for-1.
Penalties: USM, 1-2; BA, 3-6.