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Girls hockey: Erin Eilers shines in net in Cards’ win, River Lakes falls in OT

Sophomore goalie makes 27 saves to record a shutout over Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, 1-0.

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Willmar celebrates senior forward Samantha Poe's first goal of the season during a game against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — In her second career varsity start between the pipes, Erin Eilers blanked Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato as the Willmar Cardinals’ girls hockey team took home a 1-0 victory Thursday.

Eilers, a sophomore, tallied 27 saves with 11 in the first period. She now has as many shutouts as games played in her young varsity career.

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“She’s had a really good start to the season. We expected her to be solid and she has been,” Willmar head coach Eric Setrum said. “It’s nice to have a good combo (with Halle Mortensen) back there that push each other.”

Litchfield/DC outshot the Cardinals 27-22 and had more quality scoring chances at 19-14.

Eilers helped Willmar fight off 5-on-3 power play for Litchfield/DC, which lasted over a span of one minute, 31 seconds early in the first period that helped the Cardinals get back on track.

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Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato senior defenseman Julia Peter fires the puck toward Willmar's net during a game against the Cardinals on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

At the 9:13 mark of the first period, forward Samantha Poe buried her first goal of her senior season. It proved to be big as it was the game-winning goal for the Cardinals. Junior forward Macee Hansen and freshman forward Lily Jorgenson tallied the assists.

“We battled hard. They had a good game plan against us. We worked hard and got the puck deep,” Setrum said. “We would have liked to score a couple more. … It was good to get a win against a gritty team.”

With the win, Willmar extended its winning streak to four games. The Cardinals are 4-1 this season and play host to Northern Lakes at 7:15 p.m. Friday.

“We need to be more ready at the start. We got on our heels a little bit,” Setrum said. “We need to be ready to go right from the start and be more disciplined with our sticks.”

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Sophomore forward Lauren Eilers looks for a teammate to pass the puck to while behind the net during a game against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Willmar Civic Center.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Willmar 1, Litchfield/D-C 0

Litchfield/D-C (2-3-0)          0     0     0 — 0
Willmar (4-1-0)                    1     0     0 — 1

FIRST PERIOD –  (1) Samantha Poe (Macee Hansen, Lily Jorgenson) 9:13.
SECOND PERIOD –  No scoring
THIRD PERIOD – No scoring
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Litchfield/D-C: Kira Kuechle 21/22 … Willmar: Erin Eilers 27/27

Brainerd/LF 2, River Lakes 1, OT

River Lakes goaltender Kaydence Roeske stopped 60 of 62 shots to help bring the Stars into overtime with Brainerd/Little Falls. But the Flyin’ Warriors were able to prevail in the extra period at the Essentia Health Sports Center in Brainerd.

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At the 5-minute, 5-second mark of overtime, Hannah Neuwirth netted the game-winning goal for Brainerd/Little Falls.

River Lakes’ goal came on an unassisted power-play from Sophia Hess at 15:01 of the second period.

River Lakes (3-2-0)     0     1     0     0 — 1
Brainerd/LF (3-2-1)     0     0     1     1 — 2

FIRST PERIOD –  No scoring.
SECOND PERIOD –  (1) RL: Sophia Hess (unassisted), 15:01 PP.
THIRD PERIOD – (2) B/LF: Molly Hagelie (Brynn Thoma, Molly Pohlkamp), 10:19.
OVERTIME –  (3) B/LF: Hannah Neuwirth (Levi LeMieur, Aubree Caauwe), 5:05.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – River Lakes: Kaydence Roeske 60/62 … Brainerd/LF: Ericah Folden 7/8.

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Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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