Andover coach Ben Monahan and Blaine coach Steve Guider thrive on competition.
Both girls’ hockey coaches intentionally scheduled tough early-season non-conference opponents ahead of their Nov. 17 meeting at Fogerty Arena in Blaine.
Both programs should be among the Northwest Suburban Conference leaders in scoring and that offense was on display Saturday as they put 65 shots on net when Blaine earned a 2-1 overtime win.
Blaine’s Sam Swanstrom was the savior as she tied the game with a power play one-timer from twin sister Katie Swanstrom and Kiersten Falck at the 11:39 mark of the third period.
Falck and Alex Barber-Verdick set up Sam Swanstrom for the game-winner 24 seconds into overtime while goalie Courtney Jensrud made 30 saves for Blaine to improve to 2-2.
Guider was happy to get the win, but plenty of work remains.
“Defensively we had too many turnovers and turned the puck over a lot which led to offensive chances for them,” he said. Andover outshot Blaine 19-8 in the first period. “Courtney’s been hearing a lot of grief on the bad goals, but she really gave us the chance and that’s all you can ask,” he said.
Andover senior Paige Dale broke a scoreless game 4:15 into third period on an assist to Krista Flanagan.
Both programs entered Saturday game off narrow losses on the road two nights earlier.
Wayzata beat Andover 3-1 and Stillwater handed Blaine a 3-1 loss.
Junior defenseman Amy Schlagel collected her first goal as a Bengal in the second period of the loss to the Ponies.
The Bengals handed Robbinsdale Armstrong/Cooper a 6-1 loss Nov. 13 and outshot them 41-31.
Katie Swanstrom had two shorthanded goals and Sam Swanstrom and Breanna Mahoney each had one goal and one assist. Tarrah Callahan had two assists.
Andover (2-2) started the season 2-0, outscoring Rosemount and Coon Rapids by a combined 7-1 before losing to Wayzata where captain McKenzie Aguilar scored the lone goal with 14 seconds left in the second period.
Andover outshot Coon Rapids 46-14 in the 4-0 win Nov. 13 for sophomore goalie Maddie Rooney’s first shutout of her varsity career.
Mikayla Goodin had two goals against Rosemount and Coon Rapids.
Another statistic that started to emerge from the game against Coon Rapids was penalty minutes. Each team had seven power plays and went a 1-for-14 with 28 combined minutes served in the box.
Those penalties continued coming for Andover against Blaine with 12 minutes. Blaine went 1-for-6 on its chances compared with Andover’s 0-for-4 effort with the man-advantage.
The Huskies looked to rebound against Maple Grove Nov. 20.
Monahan said with 16 returning letter winners, they’ve focused to take concepts to the next level.
“We’ve tried to take things to the next level like bringing the defense into the [offensive] rush more and given our depth and experience level, we feel like we can do that more this season,” he said.
Look for Andover to continue to press the opposition in the offensive zone by sheer numbers, sending four attackers into the zone instead of two or three. “Our plan is to throw the puck at the goal more,” Monahan said. Andover has had 108 shots on goal through three games.