Red Wing's Taylor Heise (9) took a shot that resulted in her third goal of the game and capped a three-goal third-period rally as the Wingers beat Mahtomedi 5-2. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Red Wing boasts eight seniors on this year’s roster, the largest senior class in program history.
Every player in the Wingers lineup for Thursday night’s season opener at Mahtomedi had varsity experience, but the group couldn’t shake the nerves of playing together in its final first game of the season.
“We were getting a little sentimental,” Gophers recruit Taylor Heise said. “We had jitters that were going around.”
Heise carried the scoring load for the first two periods, but it was her teammates who lifted Red Wing to its first lead and an eventual 5-2 victory at the St. Croix Rec Center in Stillwater.
Ranked sixth in the Class 1A coaches’ preseason poll, the Wingers (1-0) allowed the Zephyrs (0-1) to find go-ahead goals in the first two periods. Red Wing then used a three-goal outburst in the final 17 minutes to seal the victory.
Heise, a five-year letterwinner, used her breakaway speed and stickhandling skills to score tying goals in the first two periods, but coach Scott Haley felt uneasy about his team’s play.
“I was a little anxious,” he said. “Seven minutes in, I thought we were gonna get run out of here. They looked like a way bigger, faster, deeper team than us.”
Heise netted her second goal after slipping a defender with a toe drag, tying the score at 2 with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left in the middle period.
During the final intermission, Haley stepped into the locker room with a message to the girls.
“He said ‘the next goal is going to be the biggest goal, anyone is going to score’, and it’s going to put someone up and we don’t want to be in the position of coming back from a 3-2 deficit,” Heise said.
The Wingers heeded the message, scoring the game-winner less than three minutes into the third period.
Freshman defender Eliza DiNatale carried the puck through the offensive zone and buried it in the net to give Red Wing its first lead of the game.
“Once you pick everyone up and say ‘this is a chance for us to prove to people who don’t believe in us that this is something we can do…' We had to get on each other and accounted for every single person,” Heise said.
From there, the Wingers piled on to pull away from the No. 19-1A Zephyrs.
Nicole Oberding capitalized on a loose puck in the slot laid by Heise after she was tripped. As Heise picked herself up, she saw Oberding’s grin and knew what had happened.
“That really put a smile on my face. I love to see my teammates prosper,” Heise said of Oberding’s goal.
Heise completed the hat trick less than three minutes later, giving her 145 career goals. While she’s accustomed to being the team’s featured playmaker, Heise said her team still has plenty to prove, and Thursday’s comeback victory was evidence of their passion for the game.
“We are a group to be reckoned with,” she added. “We have so much love for the game and respect for every opponent we play."
Emily Hart (4), Solveig Roth (16), Taylor Heise (9) and Elle Bryant celebrate a goal that gave Red Wing a 4-2 lead in the third period. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Overcoming a sluggish start, Red Wing netted three goals in the final period to defeat Mahtomedi 5-2 Thursday night at the St. Croix Rec Center in Stillwater. Minnesota commit Taylor Heise notched a hat trick, scoring a goal in each period and adding an assist in the third.
Ranked sixth in the Class 1A preseason coaches’ poll, the Wingers (1-0) were carried by Heise through the first two periods, but broke through with goals from Elle Bryant and Nicole Oberding.
Eighth-grader Allie Franco had two assists for Mahtomedi (0-1) while Kylie Krawczyk and Anna Broten netted the Zephyrs’ goals.
Red Wing goaltender Tyler McGrath stopped 25 of 27 shots, while No. 19-1A Mahtomedi’s Johanna Ficcadenti made 26 saves in the loss.
Red Wing came up empty on this third-period scrum in front of the Mahtomedi net. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine