By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Three days after absorbing a 4-1 loss to New Ulm, the Mankato West girls hockey team rebounded in impressive fashion Tuesday. The Scarlets earned a 6-3 nonconference victory over St. Peter/Le Sueur-Henderson/Tri-City United at All Seasons Arena.
“We skated with a lot more confidence tonight than we did in our first game,” said West’s Callie Looft, who finished with three goals and two assists. I think we were pretty nervous in the opener but we settled down tonight.”
The Scarlets outshot the Bulldogs 57-27. Looft gave West the upper hand early, scoring twice from the bottom of the slot in the first period. Bre Black and Courtney Bloemke assisted on the first goal.
The Scarlets upped their lead to 3-0 at 9:10 of the second frame when Justine Scheller popped in a rebound past SPLSHTCU goalie Veronica Sinell. The Bulldogs answered with a power-play goal off the stick of Chloe Bachman, who took a shot from the top of the left circle which hit goaltender Maddie Zellmer’s skate and angled into the net.
The Bulldogs made it interesting at the 7:50 mark of the third when Maddie Kleschult skated between the circles and lift a backhand past Zellmer to make it 3-2 game. Looft delivered the decisive goal about three minutes later, skating to the bottom of the right circle and snapping a short-handed score into the upper right corner.
SPLSHTCU continued to stay around, however, as Bachman scored her second goal on a 5-on-3 power play with 4:06 remaining. The score made it a 4-3 game but West pulled away in the final 21⁄2 minutes with scored by Hannah Rehome and Bloemke for the 6-3 triumph.
“We played better tonight but we still need to be more aggressive offensively,” West head coach Mike Sipe said. “We need to get to the net better. Their goalie left some pucks out there that we should have cleaned up but we didn’t.
“We could have played better on the penalty kill, too. That will be a point of emphasis for us in practice (Wednesday).”
West improves to 1-1 while the Bulldogs fall to 0-3. The Scarlets open Big Nine Conference play Thursday at Faribault. SPLSHTCU is back in action Friday at Worthington.