Christopherson, big first period sparks Bay Area to victory
By Greg Bates
DE PERE — Jenna Christopherson has been a stone wall all season.
The freshman goalie for the Bay Area Ice Bears came into her team’s game against the Rock County Fury with a save percentage of .908 on the season. Her goals against average dropped even more after a stellar performance.
Christopherson stopped 24 of 25 shots she faced and the Ice Bears tallied three first-period goals to pull off a 4-1 victory at the Cornerstone Community Center on Friday, Jan. 18.
“Jenna is progressing every game, her confidence is getting better and her skills are getting better,” Ice Bears coach Eric Widas said. “The whole team has a lot of confidence with her in net. She helps us out when we need it and the rest of the team helps her out, too.”
Christopherson certainly has the backing of her teammates.
“Jenna always plays good,” said Ice Bears forward/defense Josie Bender, who is a classmate of Christopherson’s at Bay Port. “Jenna keeps us in the game every single game.”
The Ice Bears – which downed Rock County 6-0 on Nov. 23 — needed Christopherson’s A-game in the second period against the Fury. After Bay Area built a 3-0 cushion, the Fury came out rejuvenated. They peppered Christopherson with the first 10 shots of the period.
“I knew that I had to make the saves,” Christopherson said. “I knew that if I didn’t – I can’t get frustrated. That’s something I’ve suffered from my previous years. I get rattled, so staying calm was a big key.”
Rock County had three power plays in the second period, and the Ice Bears nearly had the first penalty killed. However, Christopherson surrendered a goal with five seconds left on the power play to make it 3-1.
After facing only four shots in the opening period, Christopherson took on 12 shots in the second.
“It was hard,” Christopherson said. “I was sweating a lot and I was like, ‘Oh, boy.’ I got really tired toward the end.”
Christopherson noted her masterful performance between the pipes wasn’t all on her own. Her defense played very well in front of her.
“It’s a really big key trusting your defense and knowing that they’re going to make the right play,” Christopherson added.
The Ice Bears (8-8-3) had a balanced night on the offensive end. What really helped was the superb play of Widas’ third line.
“When you’re playing a tough team, that makes a big difference,” Widas said. “Our third line definitely produced tonight. They were able to get to some loose pucks and put them in the back of the net.”
Third-line forward Kaylee Greenwood (Bay Port) started the scoring for the Ice Bears, notching her first career goal 4:25 into the game.
Bay Area kept the pressure on as Maddy Carlson (Bay Port) – on a beautiful feed from Madison Anderson (Green Bay Southwest) on a 2-on-1 – scored just 59 seconds later.
“Everyone says a two-goal lead is dangerous, but the two goals in that short amount of time gave us the confidence that we needed the rest of the game,” Bender said. “We knew that this was a good team, so we knew that we could hang with them and beat them.”
Bender put in the game’s third goal to give her team a 3-0 lead.
The Ice Bears got an insurance goal midway through the third as third-liner Ella Chilson (Bay Port) found a rebound in front and poked it into the twine.
Bay Area has now won three of its last four games and is playing well down the stretch.
“I think it was a big win for us because it’s nearing the end of the season, so it’s going into state so we have to go in with a win to give us confidence,” Bender said. “We beat this team before and it’s hard to beat a team twice, so we’re glad we beat them for the second time.”
Bay Area Ice Bears 4, Rock County Fury 1
1st: BAIB Kaylee Greenwood (unassisted), 4:25.
1st: BAIB Maddy Carlson (Madison Anderson assist), 5:24.
1st: BAIB Josie Bender (unassisted), 11:37.
2nd: RCF Alyssa Knauf (Haley Knauf and Presley Kovacevich assists), 2:48.
3rd: BAIB Ella Chilson (Greenwood assist), 6:17.