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SNC women’s hockey losses; can win conference title with win tonight

By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – With one regular-season game remaining, the St. Norbert College women’s hockey team controls its destiny to win a conference title.
St. Norbert’s opponent — Adrian College — can say the same.
The Green Knights and Bulldogs conclude their Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) schedule later today at the Cornerstone Community Center.
Game one of the two-game series on Feb. 17 went to Adrian, 1-0.
Gia Avalone scored unassisted 47 seconds into the second period for the game’s only tally.
“It was a hard-fought game,” St. Norbert coach A.J. Aitken said. “Adrian is a top team in our league, but I thought we played hard and got better each period.”
Entering the weekend, the Green Knights (17-4-3 overall, 13-1-1 NCHA) sat three points ahead of Adrian (21-3, 13-2) in the conference standings and needed only two points to claim the Kronschnabel Cup and earn the No. 1 seed for the Slaats Cup Playoffs.
Now that the Bulldogs sit only a point behind St. Norbert, today’s game is a winner-take-all contest.
“Adrian defends hard, and their girls work hard to get back (on defense),” Aitken said. “They also have good stick intensity. We can’t be denied (tonight). I told the ladies to keep their heads up — we have another crack at this.”
The Green Knights started slowly as indicated by their three shots on goal in the first period.
From there, St. Norbert picked up its energy — especially after the Bulldogs took the lead early in the middle period.
“Because most goals happen at the beginning/end of a period, we talk about starting/ending the period strong,” Aitken said. “On Adrian’s goal, we had some miscommunication from our
defense — we didn’t pressure the puck quick enough. (Avalone) made a nice play. I don’t think she over-handled it — she shot it and got it by [St. Norbert goalie] Brynn [Waisman].”
Aitken said the second period “was much better” than the first for his team.
“I told the ladies between periods I liked their response after the goal,” he said. “When a team scores, you need to grab that momentum back. It was still early in the game [when Adrian scored], but we picked it up.”
The Green Knights outshot the Bulldogs in the second period, 9-4.
St. Norbert — which had three power-play opportunities on the night — couldn’t capitalize on a pair of those man-up advantages in the second period.
“It’s basically playoff hockey,” St. Norbert senior defenseman Ava Jaschke said. “We didn’t start well, but the last two periods were better. We need to put this game behind us and focus on the next one. [Saturday’s] game is a championship game, so we must play like champions.”
Jaschke said she and her teammates missed some opportunities in game one.
“We had some missed nets and odd-man rushes we couldn’t capitalize on,” she said. “We have to get pucks on our tape and take more shots.”
The Green Knights had one last opportunity on the power play late in the game when Adrian took a penalty with 2:38 remaining.
Getting good pressure, Aitken pulled Waisman with about 40 seconds showing on the clock to gain the extra attacker, but St. Norbert couldn’t find the equalizer.
Waisman made 16 saves in net for the Green Knights, which were outshot overall, 17-14.

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