Girls hockey team advances to state for first time in school history

Published 8:03 pm Thursday, February 17, 2022

OWATONNA — The No. 1 seeded Albert Lea girls hockey team found its footing in the second period in making program history Thursday night by beating Austin 7-2 in the Section 1A title game to secure its first trip to the Minnesota State Girls Hockey Tournament in program history.

The Tigers (14-10-1 overall) trailed 2-1 after Austin’s Megan Schultz scored early in the second, but Mika Cichosz, Lucy Stay, Esther Yoon and Morgan Goskeson all scored within an 11-minute stretch to put the Tigers in control.

Albert Lea won the game with just two seniors on the roster as most of the team is made up of freshmen, sophomores and middle schoolers.

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“We got a lot better this year,” said Albert Lea goalie Rachel Doppelhammer, who had 19 saves. “A lot of us hadn’t played together, because we have a lot of younger girls. It was kind of weird at the beginning, but now there’s so much chemistry and it works.”

Freshman Shelby Evans finished with a goal and three assists for the Tigers, who played loose and energized throughout the night.

“Last year we came pretty close (to state), but I was so nervous tonight. I used that and just went out for it,” Evans said. “We had nothing to lose and we went after it. I’m still pretty shook, honestly.”

Albert Lea head coach Mark Goskeson was a little emotional about his team finally cashing in on a state berth. The Tigers will begin Class A State Tournament play in Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty awesome. That’s all I can say,” he said. “Once the section started, we really turned it on and we really started playing. We’re a young team and sometimes it takes a little extra to figure out what it’s all about.”

The Packers (15-11 overall) opened the scoring early in the first period when Kate Holtz trickled a shot past Doppelhammer, who was frustrated, but not defeated after allowing the score.

“As a goalie, you just have to let it go. You just have to, especially in this game,” Doppelhammer said. “The last time we played Austin, they scored first and won 5-2. It was one goal and I know we can score. I know we’re a good team.”

SCORING SUMMARY

Austin 1 1 0  —  2

Albert Lea 1 4 1  —  7

First period

(A) Kate Holtz 3:02

(AL) Morgan Goskeson (Shelby Evans) 8:32

Second period

(A) Megan Schultz (Izzy Hemann, Holtz) :58

(AL) Mika Cichosz (Keira Erickson) 4:49

(AL) Lucy Stay 5:21

(AL) Esther Yoon (power play) (Elizabeth Willett) 9:42

(AL) Morgan Goskeson (Evans, Cichosz) 11:56

Third period

(AL) Evans (Cichosz) 8:49

(AL) Cichosz (power play) (Evans) 16:27

Shots: Austin — 21; AL — 25

Power plays: Austin — 0-for-2; AL — 3-for-5