By Joe Tischler
Special to The Free Press
Defensemen aren’t often known for putting together much offense, but the Mankato East/Loyola defenders though spent Thursday night doing the attacking on the offensive end.
Three of them scored goals, including senior Katy Snyder’s hat trick, as the Cougars throttled St. Peter/LeSueur Henderson/Tri City United 8-1 in the opening round of the Section 2A girls hockey playoffs at All Seasons Arena.
Junior defenseman Tatum Schulz got the scoring started for the Cougars 3:17 into the game as she scored off an assist from Ali Schreiber.
Snyder recorded the first of her three goals less than three minutes later as she laced a slap shot past goalie Veronica Sinell from just inside the blue line for a 2-0 lead.
“It’s nice that we can get scoring from our point,” East/Loyola head coach Nathan Fuller said. “We had three defensemen that got goals tonight, and four of them had at least eight points (combined). It was nice to have (Snyder) and the other defensemen get involved in the scoring.”
Just 16 seconds in the second period, Snyder scored again, this time on the power play, off assists from Rebekah Kolstad and Schreiber for a 3-0 advantage.
Senior Savannah Quandt was East/Loyola’s third defenseman to record a goal as she wristed a shot past Sinell from in front 9:48 into the period to help the Cougars take a 4-0 lead into the second intermission.
“All of our defensemen have been good at putting offense together this year,” Snyder said. “As a team we’re all just getting offensive opportunities and try to put in as many as we can.”
Kolstad started the scoring in the third period as she wristed a shot just under the crossbar for a 5-0 lead 5:36 into the session.
Snyder added her third goal a minute and a half later from the same spot.
Cougars’ goalie Katie Paulson didn’t see much action at her end of the rink as East/Loyola had a 53-10 shot advantage.
Snyder also recorded two assists to lead the Cougars with five points. Kolstad had two goals and two assists. Schreiber had three assists, and Maddie McCarger added a goal and an assist.
The Cougars (21-5) advance to the Section 2A semifinals where they will host Willmar on Saturday at All Seasons Arena. Willmar advanced by defeating Hutchinson 5-0 on Thursday.