Tigers Go 1-2 at State; Finish Sixth
By Pat Rupp
For the second time in three years Farmington reached the consolation finals of the Minnesota State High School Girls’ Hockey Tournament. The 2017 consolation champions couldn’t pull off a repeat, however, winning one of three games to finish sixth in the talented eight-team, 2019 field.
The Tigers ran into a buzz saw in their tourney opener, losing 7-1 to second-seeded Andover Thursday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The Huskies put the game away early with four first period scores, a 17-minute stretch in which Andover outshot the Tigers by a lopsided 15-3. Three more goals in the second stanza sealed the deal with Farmington’s Jenna Gerold scoring the only third period goal on an assist from Brenna Fuhrman.
Farmington goalkeeper Ryleigh Furlong had a busy night between the pipes, finishing with 31 saves. The Huskies allowed The Tigers just eight shots on goal in the contest.
“Wi literally and figuratively got caught up in the bright lights at state,” Tiger coach Jon Holmes said. “We blinked and two periods had gone by…In the third period we made our goal to win the period and build some momentum for the rest of the tournament.”
The opening round loss sent the Section 1AA champs farther into downtown St. Paul Friday to the Tria Rink for the consolation round on Friday. There the Tigers opened play with an exciting 2-1 victory over White Bear Lake.
Farmington never trailed in the game and outshot the Bears by a 49-18 count but White Bear Lake stayed in it the entire game thanks mainly to goalie Calla Frank who piled up 47 saves in a sterling performance against a relentless Tiger offense.
“We peppered her with shot after shot,” Holmes said. “She showed why she was named the Goalie of the Year…Our defense held the fort though and kept White Bear’s chances to a minimum. Ryleigh also made some big saves to keep us going.”
Samantha Moehle gave the Tigers an early lead with a first period power play goal after a scrum in front of the Bear net with assists from Gerold and Claire Enright. Farmington outshot the Bears 17-4 in the opening period,
The Tigers sent 17 more shots at Frank in the second period but the only score went to the Bears’ Olivia Wright to set up what would be a white-knuckler of a final period.
Enright (from Moehle and Jayden Seifert)) provided the game-winner with a perfectly executed two-on-one rush 41 seconds into the period. The defense took over from there, allowing only two shots the rest of the way. Furlong chalked up 17 saves in posting her first state tournament win.
The game was punctuated by no less than 16 penalties, eight on each side. The teams combined for one goal in in 14 power play opportunities.
The win set up a Saturday morning match-up with Maple Grove for the consolation hardware, a rematch of a regular season game between the two teams won by the Crimson in overtime.
Maple Grove led 2-1 after two periods as the teams exchanged power play goals. The Crimson drew first blood with an opening period score but Carly Lancaster made it 1-1 with six minutes remaining in the second.
The Crimson countered with the go-ahead goal with 39 seconds left in the second and then added three more in the third to cruise to a 5-1 victory and the consolation title.
“Bailey Zimmer got hurt in the first period and we had another forward who was out of town so we had to mix things up,” Holmes said. “We also spent a lot of time on special teams and by the end of the game we didn’t have much left in the tank…We played well in the first two periods. If we had capitalized on some of our early scoring opportunities we may have been able to hold on but that didn’t happen.”
The 1-2 run at state closed the books on another successful season for the Tigers. They finished 16-13-2 overall and reached the state tournament for the sixth time in school history.
“What a blast this season was,” Holmes said. “This team is so unique and I couldn’t be prouder of them. Our two senior captains (Jenna Gerold and Cassie Knutson) led this group in a way where so many young players started to play like they were upperclassmen. Next year we will still have only a couple of seniors but there will be a large group coming back with a ton of experience and grit.”
Knutson won the school’s Hobey Baker award which honors not only performance but character and academic achievement. Gerold was the recipient of the state-wide Herb Brooks Award (see below).
Gerold Named Herb Brooks Award Winner
Tiger senior co-captain Jenna Gerold, who didn’t put a skate on the ice until the opening game of the Section 1AA tournament was named the recipient of the 2019 Herb Brooks Award at the conclusion of the state tournament.
Gerold sat out the entire regular season recovering from major knee surgery. Rather than hang her head after the injury, however, she became a de facto assistant coach and the team’s biggest cheerleader. Defying huge odds, she made it all the way back, scoring eight points in the three section games and playing in her second state tournament.
“Jenna’s story is one of the more inspirational and heart-tugging I have been a part of,” Holmes said. “Her daily, weekly and season-long struggles and her dedication to overcoming them are unmatched….The fact that she was able to come back on the ice and be a big part of our success down the stretch is downright Hollywoodesque.”
Holmes said a fitting ending to the Cinderella story for his co-captain came at the award ceremony following the Class 2A championship game between Edina and Brainerd/Little Falls.
“Our entire team stuck around all through the long day to cheer for Jenna when she received the award,” he said. “They made more noise than the fans from the championship team. Truly amazing.”