Girls hockey: Raiders rebound in regular season finale

By Nick Gerhardt

Northfield wrapped up the regular season with an 8-0 rout of Mankato West Thursday at Northfield Ice Arena. 

The Class 2A No. 5-ranked Raiders (24-1, 13-0 Big 9) ended the regular season as Big 9 Conference champions and shook off the sting of their first loss of the season Tuesday against Dodge County. The Class A No. 3-ranked Wildcats (18-3) beat Northfield 4-2 behind power-play goals in the first and second periods. Dodge County held a 42-12 shots on goal advantage in the win. 

“We learned that we need to play the long game, which defensively we need to be a little more put together,” Raiders head coach Paige Haley said. “We just need to play all-around more team hockey in the playoffs to be successful.”

Northfield got an all-around effort against the Scarlets (11-13, 2-8 Big 9) with six players scoring goals. Ninth-grade forward Emma Peroutka and senior forward Emerson Garlie each scored twice. Ninth-grade defender Lily Jindra scored along with senior defender Grace McCoshen and senior forward Izzy Stephes. 

Senior center Ayla Puppe added to her state-leading goal total with an unassisted goal in the first period to push her total to 58 goals. Puppe holds a 10-goal lead over Duluth Marshall’s Isla Lindaman for the state lead. 

Sophomore defender Mia Miller added to her state-leading assists tally by adding two more against Mankato West. Miller has 44 assists and Puppe trails by just one to Miller. Miller also sits third in the state in points behind Puppe and Lindaman. 

The Raiders jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period behind a 22-1 shots on goal advantage. Northfield added four more in the second with Peroutka picking two of her goals. Junior defender Olivia Rasmussen and freshman defender Isabelle Paulson also tallied assists in the game.

The Raiders tallied 61 shots for the game and held the Scarlets to five. Junior goalie Macy Mueller earned her ninth shutout of the season.

“You can’t be disappointed with having only one loss on the year,” Haley said. “I think it just shows our success and how well we’ve done. It feels good to win the conference this year. That’s something we haven’t done the last couple of years. It was a goal for us this year and I’m glad we got to accomplish that.”

Northfield will begin the Section 1AA playoffs Wednesday. Section seeding will take place Sunday and the Raiders appear in line for the No. 1 seed. If Northfield gets the top seed, that will likely mean a meeting with Austin (1-19-1) in Northfield.