South St. Paul's Makenna Deering (9) battles with a Mahtomedi player for a loose puck in Friday night’s game. Deering had a shorthanded goal in the Packers’ 3-1 victory over the Zephyrs. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
A typical offseason can seem like a long wait for high school hockey players to return to the ice.
Add an extra-long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a talented roster coming off a Class 1A state tournament bid, and you can understand why South St. Paul’s players were itching for Friday's season opener against Mahtomedi at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center.
Despite a slow start to the game, the Packers were rewarded for the wait by defeating Metro East Conference foe Mahtomedi 3-1.
"We've been waiting to get back," said South St. Paul’s Makenna Deering. "At first, we were a little rough out there, but to step back on the ice and get our feet moving was the best feeling we've had in a long time."
South St. Paul, ranked No. 3 in the Class 1A preseason coaches’ poll, came into the regular season with some buzz with its talented group of returners.
South St. Paul's Sarah Wincentsen (19) tries a wrap-around shot as she circles behind the Mahtomedi goal Friday night. Wincentsen had two goals for the Packers in her team's 3-1 victory over the Zephyrs. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
So far, so good for Sarah Wincentsen and South St. Paul, ranked No. 3 in the Class 1A preseason coaches’ poll.
Wincentsen scored two goals, one in each of the first two periods, as the Packers (1-0) started their season with a 3-1 defeat of Mahtomedi (0-1) at the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater on Friday night.
It didn’t matter how many players were on the ice for the Packers’ offense Friday. Wincentsen scored an even-strength goal in the first period, and her second goal came on the power play. Makenna Deering scored a shorthanded goal in the third period to increase South St. Paul’s lead to 3-0.
Karen Miller ended the Packers’ shutout bid, however, tallying Mahtomedi’s lone goal in the third period with about five minutes left in the game.
Goaltender Delaney Norman stopped 16 shots for South. St. Paul. The Zephyrs’ Ella Heath had 24 saves.
These teams last met in the Class 1A, Section 4 semifinals last winter, where the Packers won 2-1 on their way to a state tournament berth.
Mahtomedi's Ella Heath (30) makes a pad save against South St. Paul. The Zephyrs fell to the Packers 3-1 Friday night in Stillwater. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
The MN Girls' Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.