By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
The 12th-ranked Mankato East/Loyola girls hockey team found itself in a dogfight with rival Mankato West after one period on Thursday and was in need of a boost.
The Cougars got a big one from senior forward Maddie McCargar.
McCargar scored three goals — a natural hat trick — in a little less than seven minutes, and the Cougars pulled away with a 6-1 Big Nine Conference victory at All Seasons Arena.
“We were a little frustrated with the score,” McCargar said, referring to the 1-1 tie after the first 17 minutes. “We were hoping to be better. We just wanted to prove something.”
McCargar’s first goal, at 1:23, came off a steal in the neutral zone. She maneuvered her way through the defense before shooting a backhand past goalie Maggie Cusey. At 5:52, McCargar started a 3-on-1 rush and centered a pass to Amanda Broman. Cusey stopped Broman’s shot, but McCargar pounced on the rebound. The third goal was a close-range shot at 8:17.
“She’s always gone hard to the net, which is great to see,” coach Nate Fuller said.
McCarger leads the Cougars with 17 goals and 34 points.
“She’s put in a lot of pucks for us,” coach Nate Fuller said. “She takes advantage of her opportunities. ... She’s been an opportunistic scorer.”
East/Loyola scored five goals in the second period. Bella Davis and Kyle Paulson had the others.
In the close first period, the Cougars got on the board first, as Rebekah Kolstad sniped a shot from the slot at 8:45.
But East/Loyola was called for a five-minute major penalty late in the period, and another minor gave West a 5-on-3 power-play down the stretch.
The Cougars killed off the two-player disadvantage, but not the major. With one second to go, the Scarlets’ Julia Snelson beat goalie Katie Paulson from below the left circle, tying the game. Bre Black assisted.
“We were a little frazzled,” Fuller said. “We were a little undisciplined in our penalties and our positioning.”
East/Loyola outshot West 9-7 in the first period and 34-13 for the game.
The Cougars (13-3-0) will play Tuesday at Mound-Westonka. West (4-12-1) plays Saturday at Owatonna.