Youngsters pave the way for Alex in possible section finals preview

Alexandria girls’ hockey coach Andy Shriver liked the players he had coming back from a team that made it to the section finals a year ago. What he wanted most was to establish a little more depth around those veterans.

That meant a host of young players would be given a chance to make a name for themselves at the varsity level. On Thursday night, it was a trio of youngsters who did just that in a 3-0 win against Fergus Falls at the Runestone Community Center.

“It was wonderful to look at last season and see we had a good year and knowing we were returning some of our strongest players on defense,” Shriver said. “We had two letter winners with Nicole [Bartels] and Shanee’ [Herd]. Our two leading scorers were back with Becca [Illies] and Shelby [Iverson], but depth was a concern. These young girls have come in, 8th and 9th graders, and really filled that void.”

Freshman goalie Amy Jost watched the puck during the second period on Thursday night. Jost had 14 saves to earn the shutout in a 3-0 win over Fergus Falls. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Freshman goaltender Amy Jost didn’t have to make many saves as the Cardinals outshot the Otters 43-14, but there was a stretch when the game was still scoreless where she came up big. Alexandria couldn’t connect on any of the 12 shots it had in the first period as the two teams went into the first intermission in a scoreless tie.

The Otters had some solid chances to take the first lead early in the middle frame. A penalty a little more than three minutes into the second gave Fergus Falls some good looks at the net during the power play. Jost turned them all away, including a couple rebound opportunities from right around the net.

“We feel great about our goaltending,” Shriver said. “We’ve got a 10th grader [Bailey Serum] and a 9th grader who have played, I think, the exact same games and minutes right now. We just feel very comfortable at that position. To have that depth at the most important position on the ice is great. Amy had some great saves. There was a flurry there where there was a quality shot and two quality rebounds. Any one of them could have gone in, and she kept the shutout intact.”

Freshman Mari Wosepka scored Alexandria’s first goal of the night midway through the second period. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Jost kept it scoreless before one of her freshmen teammates got Alexandria on the board a little more than seven minutes into the middle period. Mari Wosepka took a nice pass from fellow freshman Hanah Hansen and tapped it into an open net.

Almost seven minutes later, it was 8th grader McKenzie Revering who scored from the perimeter off an assist from senior co-captain Shelby Iverson. Junior Taylor Ellingson then put the finishing touches on Alexandria’s seventh win of the season with an unassisted goal late in the third period.

“We’ve been depending on them all year,” Shriver said of the depth some young players have provided. “Now that they’ve been tested and passed with flying colors, we know we can count on them. At this point in the season, there’s no more 8th and 9th grade. You’re either varsity or you’re not, and they are.”

Eighth grader McKenzie Revering watched the puck as Fergus Falls tried to clear it during the second period on Thursday. Revering gave the Cardinals some breathing room with a goal that made it 2-0. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

It was an important win for the Cardinals as they moved to 3-0 against Section 6A opponents. Two of those wins are against Fergus Falls after they beat the Otters 3-0 on November 13, as well. Northern Lakes looks like the other contender in the Section 6A field with a 7-6 record. Alexandria will see how it stacks up against the Lightning on January 22. But up to this point, the Cardinals seem to have established themselves as the favorites as they look ahead to the playoffs.

“Fergus has some outstanding players who can change the game on ¬†one shift,” Shriver said. “Yes, we feel strong and confident, but anything can happen in those rivalry games.”