Farmington Freezes North 6-0 to Advance to the Section 1AA Finals
By Paul Rock
For the fourth time this season the Cedar Avenue Border rivals, Farmington and Lakeville North, hit the ice for a much anticipated and positively packed Schmitz-Maki Arena for the Section 1AA Semi-Final. Farmington was riding a five-game winning streak and owned two of the last three games against North having fallen to them the first game of the season back in November 3-2. With a great deal more riding on this match up, both communities did not disappoint with the electric setting they created for their teams to play in. Complete with dueling bands, the post season atmosphere definitely caused for some jitters and nerves in the first period as the teams skated the first 17 minutes to a 0-0 tie.
The last two periods were a much different story as the penalty box was filled with both teams and the goal lamp was beginning to be lit by the Section 1AA defending champs. Jenna Gerold got the first goal of the night for Farmington on a beautiful two on one dish from Carly Lancaster. Lancaster brought the defense wide on the zone entry and threaded a pass cross ice to Gerold waiting on the back door. Not three minutes later 8th grader Claire Enright netted her first goal of her hat trick to put the Tigers up by two. Senior co-captain, Ellie Moser rounded out the second period flurry with an absolute twisted wrister beating Callie Schneider on the top glove side. Schmitz-Maki was definitely swaying for the home team throughout the second period and with the stingy net minding Emily Auge is known for, the task for North to mount a comeback was getting tougher by the second.
With the crowd on both sides ready for more action, the third period began with Farmington senior Savanna Tucker slamming home a feed from Knutson and Gerold in the low slot just a minute and change into the period. As the Farmington Band frolicked for the fourth goal, the tide had definitely grown too big to turn, and Enright netted the next two goals of the game for the Tigers to round out her hat trick on the night. Her third goal came shorthanded and was an amazing individual effort to track down her own rebound in the corner to then slam in a wraparound from behind the net to put the game into running time. Coach Holmes was beaming with praise for his eighth grade forward, “Claire had an absolute standout performance tonight. She has been playing like this for weeks and it was just a matter of time for her to find the right mix to get her efforts to show on the box score.”
The Tigers finished the game with a 40- 27 edge in shots on net and outshot the Panthers by over a 2-1 margin in the final two periods. Despite putting the Panthers on the power play six times the Tigers were able to keep their potent powerplay led by the recent Gold Medal Winning Maggie Flaherty off the board. The Tigers were able to capitalize on one of their own four powerplay opportunities and continued to prove it detrimental to put the Tigers on a man advantage. Emily Auge patrolled the pipes for the Tigers in the Semi-Final and recorded her third shutout of the season, raising her save percentage to .932 and lowering her goals against to 1.80.
In addition to giving his goalie much praise, Holmes was also quick to point out how well he thought his team implemented the game plan. “The girls remained disciplined with the overall plan for the night, and after making some minor adjustments after the first, they just simply wore North out.” The veteran coach was also very rapid in backing that comment up with an immediate shift to getting ready for the section final. “We always want to enjoy the moment, we always need to live in the present, but planning and preparing for the next game starts now.”
Farmington will get its opportunity to defend the Section 1AA Championship this coming Thursday against the other cross Cedar Avenue foe in Lakeville South. The game is slated slightly further down I-35 for a 5:00PM match up in Owatonna at the Four Seasons Arena.