The Minnesota River Bulldogs girls hockey team earned its third straight win and advanced to 4-4 on the season with two big wins last week.
The Bulldogs had a number of players earn big accomplishments in its 12-0 victory over Waseca on Friday night, Feb. 12, in Le Sueur.
The Bulldogs had a trio of hat tricks in the win. Cleveland senior Nicole McCabe netted four goals, three of which came in the second period. Adrianna Bixby and LS-H junior Anna Pavlo also scored three goals in the win. Makenna Mueller and Belle Plaine’s Mary Rella scored the other two goals.
McCabe’s four goals put her at 52 career goals and 96 total points (goals and assists). She has been playing hockey since she was 5 years old and has been on the Bulldogs' varsity team since eighth grade.
McCabe teamed up with LS-H players Emma Seaver and Pavlo on a line this year, and the pairing has been a successful one, as the three of them skate well together. Together, they scored seven of 12 goals and had eight of 17 assists in Friday’s game.
McCabe said they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and she is good at anticipating where a play is going to end up.
“If Anna passes to Emma, I know to break out and better position myself,” McCabe said.
While McCabe’s teammates helped set her up to hit the 50-goal milestone on Friday, head coach Tom Blaido said his girls are successful because they put the team before their individual stats and accomplishments.
“I want us to keep growing,” Blaido said. “It seems every year as the season goes on, you have peaks and valleys. I think we did have a little valley for about a week-and-a-half, and I don’t want to go back. I want to keep getting better. Win, lose, or draw, I want us to be successful as a hockey player and hockey team.”
Belle Plaine goalie Amelia Messer also earned her first shutout on Friday night, stopping all 22 shots on net. Blaido commented that Messer does not allow herself to get rattled when she does miss a shot.
“Amelia gets it that she will probably give up a goal here or there, but she is not going to worry about it,” Blaido said.
Among the other highlights were Bixby scoring her first high school hat trick, Pavlo picking up four assists to make her #1 in the state for assists, and Tahya McKinney earning her first three-point game with three assists. Rella also had a good game, as she earned two assists and scored her second varsity goal.
“Mary has really settled into this position,” Blaido said. “In the past she really relied on her strength and of course would end up in the penalty box more often than not, but now she is realizing ‘my strength is not my muscle, my strength is between my ears.’”
Win Over Worthington
Prior to Friday’s game, the Bulldogs had a rematch scheduled with Worthington on Tuesday, Feb. 9, and skated away with a 7-5 victory.
McCabe earned a hat trick in the win, while Pavlo scored two goals and had three assists. Seaver had one goal and one assist, and Mueller netted the final goal. Darbi Dunning, Lucy Kleschult, Molly Voeltz, Bixby, and Rella also had an assist each.
The Bulldogs outshot Worthington, 20-18. Messer earned the win in the net with 13 saves.
The Bulldogs had a rematch with Waseca on Tuesday, Feb. 16, but Blaido said they were not treating it like a victory was guaranteed. The Waseca team is young, but Blaido said they are well-coached and always play well at home. (Results were not available by press time.)
After the rematch with Waseca, the Bulldogs will travel to New Ulm on Friday, Feb. 19, for a 7 p.m. game. The Bulldogs then turn around and host New Ulm on Tuesday, Feb. 23.