Tigers get defensive in 2-1 win at Shakopee
by Pat Rupp
A lot has changed since the Tigers suffered a 3-0 shutout loss to Shakopee in November. Chief among then has been an increased emphasis on the defensive zone.
That was more than evident in Friday night’s exciting 2-1 win over the Sabers in a South Suburban Conference game played at Shakopee Arena.
The win was the fifth in six tries for Farmington (9-7-2) which improved its conference record to 6-5-1 in the South Suburban.
“We have really worked hard watching film of ourselves and other teams and taking note of little hustle and stick positioning cues that can make huge differences,” coach Jon Holmes said.
“This was one area I knew we would struggle with at the beginning of the year because it is not only the toughest zone to teach, it is the toughest zone for kids to buy into. You just don't see the instant result like you do with offense.”
Shakopee scored the only goal of the first period but the Tigers answered with the lone goal of the second on a power play score by Maddi Oines (from Dani Wright).
Kenna Cavanaugh provided the game-winner four minutes into the third period with her first goal of the season on an assist from Savanna Tucker.
Goaltender Emily Auge continued her stellar play between the pipes, piling up 21 saves in posting her seventh win of the season. Each team finished the contest with 22 shots on goal.
Another key factor in the win over the Sabers was the Tigers’ ability to stay out of the penalty box. Shakopee finished the night with just one power play opportunity.
“One of the reasons for that was the way we implemented our defensive zone,” Holmes said. “When you move your feet, get your knees bent, play the stick on the puck and compete to win races, there is not a whole lot of room for clutching and grabbing.”
As for the recent 5-1 spurt, Holmes said it is not all that surprising.
“We re-evaluated some goals during the holiday tournament and figured realistically we could be in this position if we bought into a team defense that keeps opportunities low,” he said.
“In retrospect, we have done a nice job since re-evaluation. Minus the Red Wing Game we have only given up eight goals in the five wins. Those are the kind of numbers we can take pride in.”
Holmes said he and his staff will continue to stress play in the defensive zone as they prepare the team for the final run through the South Suburban and head to the post-season.
“It's not one of those things you can just let slip your mind every now and then in this conference,” he said. “The second you do the opposing team has found an opportunity and it becomes a ‘hope’ game.”
Next on the slate for the Tigers is a Tuesday (Jan. 13) night home contest with Burnsville. The Tigers eked out a 3-2 victory when the two teams played in Burnsville earlier in the season.