The Austin Packers girls hockey team was looking to close out the regular season with a win at Riverside Arena Thursday evening versus Big 9 Conference rival Red Wing, but a natural hat trick in the first period for top scorer Tatum Zylka helped to propel the Wingers past the Packers 7-4.
Zylka put Red Wing in front 1-0 with a goal at 6:08 of the first period, but Austin’s Peyton Squire tied the game with her ninth goal of the season during a two-player advantage for the Packers at 12:54, with an assist to Maci Talamantes, her fourth of the season. Zylka, though, scored only :06 seconds into a Winger power play at 15:32 to make the score 2-1, and she scored again only :32 seconds later at 16:04 to complete the natural hat trick to give Red Wing a 3-1 lead at the end of one period.
The Wingers took a 4-1 lead with a goal from defenseman Allison Krueger at 2:54 of the second period, but the Packers rallied back when senior defenseman Sara Wangen blasted a slap shot from 59 feet out by the left point that whistled over the blocker of Red Wing goaltender Amber Vogel and into the net for her 22nd goal of the season at 7:03 of the period to make the score 4-2, with an assist to Lauren Bowe, her eighth of the season, and Bowe then scored just over a minute later at 8:06 to trim the Wingers lead to 4-3. Red Wing defenseman Nora Meyer tallied at 10:07 to give the Wingers a 5-3 lead, but Wangen let fly with another slap shot at 13:30 of the period that caromed off the right pad of Vogel and into the back of the net for her 23rd goal of the year, with an assist to Camille Dunlap, her third of the season to cut Red Wing’s lead to 5-4. The Wingers answered back :55 second later, though, when Grace Handwerk tipped a drive from Meyer from the top of the slot and past Packer netminder Chloe Schaal to make the score 6-4 Wingers after two periods of play. Red Wing tallied the only goal of the third period when Taya Cordes received a pass by the left post and was robbed on a fantastic save from Schaal, but she was able to corrall the rebound and score a power-play goal on a wrap around shot at 7:52 of the period for the 7-4 final.
Red Wing outshot Austin 33-11 in the game, and Schaal made 26 saves in net for Austin, while Vogel turned away six of the 10 shots she faced in the first two periods to earn the win, as Allie Meyer, the other netminder for the Wingers played the third period and turned away the only shot she faced. Austin was whistled for eight penalites for 19 minutes, with six of them called in the third period alone for 15 minutes, while Red Wing was called for three penalties for six minutes. The Wingers were 2 for 8 on the power play, while the Packers were 1 for 3.
Austin finishes the regular season with a record of 2-20, and the Packers will return to action next Wednesday at either Waseca or Winona in the first round of the Section 1A girls hockey tournament, with face-off at 7:00 p.m.