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Girls Hockey: Slow start for Willmar Cardinals

Mistakes hurt Willmar in its season-opening, 4-1 loss to Hutchinson

Willmar junior Sophia Quinn, 11, gets her stick tangled up with Hutchinson's Morgan Wagner during a non-conference game on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
Willmar junior Sophia Quinn, 11, gets her stick tangled up with Hutchinson's Morgan Wagner during a non-conference game on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — A couple of miscues made life troublesome for the Willmar girls hockey team in its season debut Tuesday.

Hosting Hutchinson for a non-conference game at the Willmar Civic Center, a pair of giveaways led directly to a pair of Tiger goals in a 4-1 Cardinals loss.

“We played all right in spurts,” said Willmar head coach Eric Setrum. “Power play was solid, penalty kill was pretty good. We just need to clean up some little mistakes. Make sure we get the puck deep when we need to, getting the puck out of our zone and don’t try to make a play at the blue line.

“Overall, we’re going to be OK.”

The Willmar girls hockey team mobs teammate Makenna Larson after scoring a goal in the first period during a non-conference game against Hutchinson on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
The Willmar girls hockey team mobs teammate Makenna Larson after scoring a goal in the first period during a non-conference game against Hutchinson on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar came into the game ranked 17th in Class A in the state preseason poll from StateOfHockey.com.

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It was Hutchinson that got the early lead at the 1-minute, 58-second mark of the first period. A turnover in the Cardinals’ defensive zone allowed Jolynn Hauan a chance to snap the puck past Willmar goaltender Halle Mortensen for the game’s first goal.

After handing an early onslaught of offense from the Tigers, the Cardinals evened things up. Taking a shot from near the blue line, junior defenseman Makenna Larson uncorked a shot that beat the Tigers’ Kaiden Fitterer to make it 1-1 at 8:47 of the first period. Avery Olson and Gretchen Volk were credited with assists on the play.

“We talked about at the faceoff to be quick and we got it all set up,” Larson said about the buildup to her goal. “It really worked with all of us.”

All game, the Cardinals funneled their offense to their defenders with the hopes of either beating the goalie or causing havoc in front of the net and getting a score on a rebound.

Fitterer was able to withstand that pressure, making 27 saves.

“Our offense is going to run through our defense,” Setrum said. “If our forwards get the puck low and we cycle hard and we cycle it out high and get good shots on goal, that’s what we’re looking for.”

Hutchinson’s perseverance paid off in the second period. After Mortensen made multiple stops near the net, Addison Longie finally poked the puck past the Willmar goalie to put the Tigers back in the lead.

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In the third, a turnover in neutral ice gave the Tigers some insurance as Longie got a breakaway goal for her second tally of the night. She also had an assist in the final goal of the game by Audrey Hanson.

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“We were kind of jittery coming out, but we built up our intensity and we ended pretty good,” Larson said.

The Cardinals are back at the Civic Center on Thursday, hosting Morris/Benson Area. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:15 p.m.

Willmar junior Makenna Larson takes a shot on net for the Cardinals' first goal of the season during a non-conference game against Hutchinson on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
Willmar junior Makenna Larson takes a shot on net for the Cardinals' first goal of the season during a non-conference game against Hutchinson on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 at the Willmar Civic Center.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Hutchinson 4, Willmar 1

Hutchinson (1-0-0)     1     1     2 — 4
Willmar (0-1-0)            1     0     0 — 1
FIRST PERIOD –  (1) H: Jolynn Hauan (unassisted), 1:58 … (2) W: Makenna Larson (Avery Olson, Gretchen Volk), 8:47. 
SECOND PERIOD –  (3) H: Addison Longie (Audrey Hanson, Kohle Fitterer), 4:27.  
THIRD PERIOD – (4) H: Longie (unassisted), 4:21 … (5) H: Hanson (Longie), 13:44.
GOALIE SAVES/SHOTS – Hutchinson: Kaiden Fitterer 27/28 … Willmar: Halle Mortensen 18/22.

Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune.

He can be reached via email at: jbrown@wctrib.com or his office number: 320-214-4332.
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