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Willmar girls claim Cardinal Classic title

Willmar right wing Ashley Hutton pries the puck off the boards, watched by Jennie Mattison, left, as Sam Falk (9) and Dani Schultz of Morris/Benson Area close in during the championship game of the Cardinal Classic Saturday in Willmar. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- The Willmar girls hockey team won its third straight game and captured the title at its own Cardinal Classic Saturday with a 5-2 win over Morris/Benson Area.

The Cardinals (3-2) spread the wealth. Five different players scored, the last on an open netter by Ali Sing, who also had two assists.

Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato won the third-place game over Mankato East, 7-5.

Much like in Friday's first round, the Cardinals were able to capitalize on scoring chances more effectively than in their first two games of the season in losses to Central Lakes Conference foes.

Willmar netted three goals in the tilt's first 6½ minutes. Chelsey Wierschem, Jennie Mattison and Becca Freese scored as Willmar dominated play in the first 17 minutes.

MBA junior Brooke Anderson cut the Willmar lead to 3-1 with a goal straight off the face-off following the marker by Freese.

The Storm picked up the pressure in the second period, raining 15 shots on freshman goalie Baylie Young. None got through.

"Baylie was fantastic," said coach Rick Dahle. "She played so well in the second period or this might have been a different outcome."

The teams traded goals in the third period, with eighth-grader Sam Block, assisted by Kayte Cole and Ashley Hutton, giving Willmar a 4-1 lead at the 4:32 mark. MBA answered with a Dani Schultz powerplay goal at 9:51.

Falk stopped 29 shots for MBA and Young finished with 27 saves.

MBA is 3-2. Its other loss was to Alexandria, 3-2.

"MBA may be the best-skating team we've played," said Wierschem, the team captain. "They're fast. You can misjudge them and they play hard.

"As far as our play, I thought we moved the puck really well. We've loosened up; I think we had the jitters and lacked confidence those first two games."

Willmar 5, MBA 2

Morris/Benson Area 1 0 1 -- 2

Willmar 3 0 2 -- 5

FIRST PERIOD - Wil: Chelsey Wierschem (Ali Sing, Becca Freese) pp, 2:42 ... Wil: Jennie Mattison (Sam Block) 5:59 ... Wil: Freese (Carlie Freese, Sing) 6:36 ... MBA: Brooke Anderson (Dani Schultz) 6:43

SECOND PERIOD - no scoring

THIRD PERIOD - Wil: Block (Kayte Cole, Ashley Hutton) 4:32 ... MBA Schultz (Emily Rajewsky, Katia Vantries) pp, 9:51 ... Wil: Sing (Wierschem) en, 16:18

GOALIE SAVES - Morris/Benson Area: Brooke Falk 10-6-13-29 ... Willmar: Baylie Young 3-15-9-27

Late Friday boxscore

Willmar 6, Mankato East 0

Mankato East 0 0 0 -- 0

Willmar 1 3 2 -- 6

FIRST PERIOD - Wil: Chelsey Wierschem (unassisted) 2:45

SECOND PERIOD - Wil: Ali Sing (unassisted) 8:00 ... Wil: Wierschem (Meckenzie Dahle) 13:55 ... Wil: Kayte Cole (Sam Block) 15:14

THIRD PERIOD - Wil: Becca Freese (Wierschem, Sing) 1:37 ... Wil: Ashley Hutton (unassisted)

GOALIE SAVES - Mankato East: Melany Anderson 11-14-12-37 ... Willmar: Amanda Croonquist 2-4-3-9