Bengals end six game winning streak against top-ranked Minnetonka, 4-1
Despite playing what Blaine girls’ hockey coach Steve Guider said was the best game yet, the ninth-ranked Bengals (10-2-2) came up short against top-ranked Minnetonka 4-1 Dec. 19.
The Skippers (11-0-0) had come off an emotional 4-3 overtime win against rival and fourth-ranked Wayzata two nights earlier.
“It made us feel a little bit stronger to get through with a win,” Minnetonka coach Eric Johnson said. “Tonight we knew they have some high-end powerful players up front and if we could shut them down, the likelihood of getting a win would be much higher.”
Blaine came in to the game on a six-game winning streak and hadn’t lost since opening night (2-1 against Robbinsdale at Fogerty, Nov. 12). Minnetonka, the three-time defending state champion, won its 27th straight game.
The Lake-Northwest Suburban Conference crossover contest at Fogerty Arena in Blaine was an entertaining game between two of the better clubs in the state.
The Bengals outshot Minnetonka 23-22 including a 9-5 advantage in the opening period.
Guider was happy with the aggressiveness of the forecheck to disrupt and on the flip side, how Blaine’s offense tried take advantage of its chances, he said.
“We made a very good defense look average at times by the way we pressured and competed,” Guider said. “I know they were not pressured the way we pressured them when I saw them play.”
Skippers defenseman Sydney Baldwin jump started a rush behind her own goal before finding teammates Hannah Ehresmann and Presley Norby in the Blaine defensive zone, then redirected a save to open the scoring at the 9:24 mark of the opening period.
Guider praised Baldwin after scouting the Skippers against Andover.
“She’s the best defenseman in the state right now,” Guider said. “Their strength is with their defensemen and with Katie McMillian they move and control the puck so well.”
To counter that, Guider felt the middle of the zone was a place to exploit, which Blaine used to generate chances.
Blaine held the edge in scoring chances, and a 6-2 shots edge at that point, but couldn’t convert, a theme that continued throughout the contest.
“That’s the best game we played,” Guider said. “Unfortunately the scoreboard didn’t show it, but I didn’t leave the game feeling like we had a 4-1 loss to them. I actually think we were the better team tonight.”
Minnetonka added two goals in the second period, including a partial breakaway from Norby who was sprung by Kelsey Crow at the 5:59 mark.
After Blaine killed a power play, McMillian rifled a shot from just inside the blue line through traffic in front of Bengals goalie Makayla Tilton with 1:10 left in the period.
Needing an early goal to try to comeback, Blaine senior captain Kiersten Falck tossed a shot from 10 feet out along the goal line. The puck deflected off a Skippers skate and into the goal for the lone Bengals reward of the evening, 1:10 into the third period on a four-on-four situation. Falck was fed the puck by freshman standout Paige Beebe, but she wasn’t credited for the helper.
Crow answered for Minnetonka with her fourth goal of the season at the 7:14 mark.
“If we play like that, we have a bright future ahead of us,” Guider said.
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