By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
It may not have been the mother of all comebacks, but as come-from-behind victories go, Tuesday’s was a pretty good one for the Mankato West girls hockey team.
The Scarlets trailed Marshall 2-0 with less than six minutes to play in regulation before rallying for two third-period goals and then scoring the game-winner for a 3-2 victory in overtime. West outshot the Tigers 50-20, including a 23-5 advantage in the third period and a 5-2 edge in the OT.
“We’ve played pretty well the last week and a half and haven’t had anything to show for it,” West coach Mike Sipe said. “But for some reason today we came out kind of flat.
“In the third period they just decided to start making Marshall play our game instead of us playing Marshall’s game. It helps a lot when you start playing the way you’ve practiced leading up to the game.”
Marshall took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Lizzie Archbold at 3:12 of the first period. Neither team scored again until the 10:42 mark of the third when Marshall’s Megan Vogl stole the puck at the blueline and skated in a breakaway to pop the puck over Maddie Zellmer’s right shoulder for the score.
“At that point we didn’t get down so much as we got mad,” West junior forward Callie Looft said. “The whole game had been in their end but were we down 2-0.”
The Scarlets’ comeback began at 5:39 of the third when Bre Black took a slap shot from left point that was deflected into the net past goaltender Sierra Wagner. With 3:09 left, West was on a power play when Justine Scheller slid a pass from behind the goal line out front to Courtney Boemke, who snapped it into left side to tie the game.
On the opening faceoff of overtime, Looft picked up the puck and skated in on a breakaway only to be stoned by Wagner.
“That was a great scoring opportunity, but Callie is the kind of player who doesn’t give up,” Sipe said. “I had a feeling she was going to get another opportunity to score.”
Looft had a similar outlook: “It was frustrating to miss it but I told myself to get back up. We still had a game to win.”
With 3:17 left in the OT, Looft picked up a loose puck, skated across the slot from left to right and backhanded the game-winner into the lower-left corner.
“I knew I was going to have to backhand it because I didn’t have time to switch to my forehand.” Looft said. “I just tried to put as much on it as I could.”
Black finished with a goal and two assists while Scheller added two assists. The win improves West’s record to 2-7-1 while Marshall falls to 3-6.
The Scarlets host Rochester John Marshall at 4 p.m. Saturday at All Seasons Arena.