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Top games: White Bear Lake hosts conference foe Stillwater on Hockey Day Minnesota

By Heather Rule, SportsEngine , 01/23/23, 10:30AM CST


Jan. 28: Ponies won their first meeting with the Bears this season.

We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.

Stillwater vs. White Bear Lake

9:30 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 28 

White Bear Lake gets the honor of starting play on the official Hockey Day Minnesota for the 17th annual event. This year, the Bears host the event at Polar Lakes Park, welcoming its Suburban East Conference rival Stillwater in the morning.  

Stillwater, ranked No. 10 in the Class 2A coaches' poll released Jan. 17, is 16-4 this season tallying about four goals a game. All four of their losses have come against top-10 ranked programs in Class 2A. Their victory over White Bear Lake to start 2023 spurred the Ponies to a five-game winning streak headed into Hockey Day week. They’ve outscored opponents 81-31 this season, including 32-4 in the first period, and their power play has scored about a quarter of the time (17-for-67).

Junior Josie St. Martin (16 goals, 21 assists) leads the Ponies in all three offensive categories. Junior Myah Krueger is close behind with 13 goals and 17 assists. Juniors Brooke Nelson (10 goals, 14 assists) and defenseman Josie Lang (12 goals, 12 assists) each have double-digit goal totals as well. Senior defenseman Kylie Ligday (four goals, 15 assists) leads the team with nine helpers on the power play. Junior Lily Timmons (13-4-0) has a 1.65 goals-against average in net with a .919 save percentage and three shutouts.

The event will be a special one for White Bear Lake (7-14), especially head coach Elsa Shorey. She’s a player-turned-coach in her fourth season leading the White Bear Lake program. Then Elsa Bruestle, she scored 49 goals and 89 points as a Bears player from 2006-10 before playing for Union in college. 

They’re led by three seniors: defenseman Annika Norman (one assist), forward Celia Spence (one goal, two assists) and goaltender Maya Marston (2.40 goals-against average, .924 save percentage). Sophomore Amanda Smythe (seven goals, 12 assists) is the team’s leading scorer, followed by sophomore Talia Domschot (five goals, 10 assists).

Simley vs. South St. Paul 

7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 27

It doesn’t get much closer on paper than this Simley vs. South St. Paul meeting between Metro East Conference foes. Headed into this week, they have identical 17-4-1 overall records and are No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference standings. Simley is scoring 4.73 goals per game, while South St. Paul is averaging 4.18 goals per game. Simley is ranked No. 4 in Class 1A, with South St. Paul at No. 7. Simley won the first head-to-head meeting on Jan. 3 by a 3-1 margin.

Simley’s roster boasts not one, but two, of the state’s top scorers. Senior Ella Tuccitto ranks sixth in goals (33) and points (58), and tied for ninth in assists (25). She has 17 goals in her last nine games. But her teammate, senior Mackaylan McGown, leads the state in assists with 46; she also has 10 goals this season, ranking her seventh in the state in points (56). McGown’s 14 power-play assists are a state-best. Freshman Ella Sanders contributes 18 goals, 11 assists and a team-high six power-play goals. Junior Kelsi Ries is the last double-digit goal scorer with 14, plus her nine assists. Sophomore Sydney Ries minds the net with a 2.11 goals-against average and .907 save percentage.

That high-powered offense will face a South St. Paul team that boasts a 95.1% penalty kill and a 26.96% power play. The Packers have rattled off six straight shutout wins since its loss to Simley, outscoring their opponents by a combined 25-0. 

Senior goaltender Delaney Norman (13-4-1) continues to be a solid backstop for the Packers with her 1.27 goals-against average and .938 save percentage with six shutouts. Offensively, sophomores Bailey Vesper and Lily Pachl each have 17 goals. Senior Sarah Wincentsen (15 goals, 21 assists) is third on the team in points with six goals in her last five games.

Rogers vs. Roseville/Mahtomedi

7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26

No. 14-2A Rogers travels to No. 15 Roseville/Mahtomedi in what appears to be another tight matchup on paper. Rogers (10-8-1) scores 2.68 goals per game to a 2.67 mark for Roseville/Mahtomedi (13-7-1). Rogers allows 2.63 goals per game to just 2.29 for Roseville/Mahtomedi. Their power-play and penalty-kill percentages are close to even as well. Rogers has won three of its last four headed into a game with conference-foe Anoka this week, while Roseville/Mahtomedi is 0-2-1 following a six-game winning streak.

Rogers relies on a tandem of goaltenders to shut down teams. Senior Lauren Larson (5-5-0) has a 2.09 goals-against average with a .928 save percentage and a shutout, allowing 21 total goals this season. Senior Alexa Backmann (5-3-1) has a .295 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage with 27 goals allowed this season. 

Three players are tied at the top of the Rogers stat sheet with 27 points each: Junior Avery Achterkirch (13 goals, 14 assists), senior McKenna Sandberg (nine goals, 18 assists) and senior Ava Johansson (14 goals, 13 assists). The trio also has eight power-play goals between them. 

Roseville/Mahtomedi relies on sophomore goaltender Lily Peterfeso in net. She has a 2.30 goals-against average and .913 save percentage with two shutouts. Offensively, junior Kylie Jones (11 goals, 10 assists) is the team’s top scorer. Sophomore Olivia Martin (five goals, 15 assists) is the team assists leader with a team-high nine of them on the power play. Junior Victoria Nelson has the most goals on the team with 14, six of them on the power play.

Other games to keep an eye on

Forest Lake vs. Cretin-Derham Hall, 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26. This game helps kick off the Hockey Day Minnesota activities with a meeting between Suburban East Conference teams. Forest Lake won the first meeting this season, 6-3 on Jan. 7 at home.

Edina vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s, 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 26. A possible Class 2A, Section 6 playoff preview between No. 3 Edina and No. 9 Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Edina won last year’s section final over the Red Knights, 4-1, after taking a 3-1 victory during the regular season. After a 1-0 loss to section-rival Blake, Edina rebounded last week with shutout wins over Proctor/Hermantown and Buffalo. Benilde-St. Margaret's has won four of its last five games.

Top Games poll

The MN Girls' Hockey Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.

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