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Willmar goalie Baylie Young, center, turns away a shot by Maddie Sjelin, left, of North Wright County for one of her 22 saves in the second period. Helping defend is Samantha Block, right, in the Cardinals' girls hockey season opener at the Willmar Civic Center on Tuesday. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

Girls Hockey: Willmar stopped in opener

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Baylie Young had a busy opener in the Willmar net, turning back 45 shots, but the Cardinals succumbed to North Wright County 3-0 in a non-conference girls hockey game on Tuesday.

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Young especially had a rugged second period when she stopped 22 of 23 shots.

The RiverHawks' sustained pressure on the Willmar net paid off when senior Kasey Blomberg broke around a Cardinal defender to score from low in the slot at 4:09 in the first.

Sophomore Dani Sibley made it 2-0 at the end of one period, sweeping in a rebound in the crease.

Willmar got a small amount of pressure on Hawks' goalie Amanda Koep, managing three shots in the first period and six in the second.

A bouncing puck that was whacked by Maddi Sjelin skipped over Young's shoulder for a 3-0 lead after two periods.

The teams played nearly even in the third period with NWC outshooting Willmar only 9-8.

"I thought we progressively played better as the game went on," said Willmar first-year coach Jason Mayer. "Baylie played very well and made some nice saves. We improved each period and played them about even in the third."

Koep finished with 17 saves in posting the shutout.

NWC, which pairs St. Michael-Albertville and Monticello, crumpled Willmar last year 9-1 on the way to an 18-5-2 season.

North Wright County 3, Willmar 0

North WC (2-0) 2 1 0 -- 3

Willmar (0-1) 0 0 0 -- 0

FIRST PERIOD - NWC: Kasey Blomberg (Emily Achterkirch) 4:09 ... NWC: Dani Sibley (unassisted) 12:28

SECOND PERIOD - NWC: Maddi Sjelin (Kasey Blomberg) 6:25

THIRD PERIOD - None

GOALIE SAVES - North Wright County: Amanda Koep 17 ... Willmar: Baylie Young 45

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