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Cougars claw away 5-2 win over Huskies

Steele County Times - Staff Photo - Create Article
Owatonna senior captain Ezra Oien protects the puck from a defender as she enters the offensive zone against Mankato East. Oien scored Owatonna’s first goal of the game in the Huskies’ 5-2 loss to the Cougars. Staff photo by Johnnie Phillips
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

The Mankato East Cougars traveled to Owatonna last week and emerged victorious with a 5-2 win in a hockey game that was much closer than the score suggests.

After facing early adversity in the form of two first-period goals, Owatonna was able to claw within one goal of the Cougars before the game opened up late.

“We created offense. We had a lot of shots on goal and zone time. Unfortunately for us, Mankato East just capitalized on the shots they got and had some pretty good chances with a few of our errors,” said Owatonna Head Coach Tony Cloud.

Owatonna found itself in a quick deficit against Mankato East after the Cougars potted a goal just 56 seconds into the game on a tipped pass that beat goaltender Mikayla Wilker to the upper portion of the net.

Despite the fast start for the Cougars, Owatonna rebounded to take control of the game shortly afterward but was unable to score a goal despite creating consistent offensive opportunities.

Instead, the Cougars were able to score again late in the period to lead 2-0 after a takeaway in the defensive zone by Mankato East led to a fast break opportunity.

Mankato East took its 2-0 lead to the locker room, but soon after the two teams returned to the ice for the second period, the momentum shifted again.

A five-minute major penalty on Mankato East for checking from behind resulted in an elongated powerplay for the Huskies, who were able to draw within one goal after a quick score by senior captain Ezra Oien.

A pass from the point by defenseman Kendra Bogen found Oien on the left wing, where the senior ripped a wrist shot top shelf into the upper righthand portion of the net to make the score 2-1 less than 30 seconds into the second.

The Huskies fed off the momentum of Oien’s goal and nearly found an equalizing goal after senior defenseman Abby Vetsch got loose behind the Cougars' defense for a breakaway, but her shot attempt rang off of the right post and out to keep Mankato East’s 2-1 lead alive.

Unfortunately for Owatonna, the post saved the Cougars from losing their lead and instead led to another scoring opportunity for Mankato East just three minutes later.

Another takeaway by Mankato East in the defensive zone led to a quick two-on-one rush for the Cougars, where a shot from the left wing beat Wilker to the glove side to put the visitors up 3-1.

Mankato East was able to hold its lead until the end of the period, forcing Owatonna to deal with a two-goal deficit with just 17 minutes remaining.

Owatonna once again cut the Mankato East lead to one after senior forward Ava Stanchina scored on a rebound in front of the net just 5:25 into the period, but the Cougars had answers for the Huskies’ late push.

Less than four minutes later, Mankato East scored a five-on-three powerplay goal following a checking penalty on Molly Achterkirch and an interference call on Stanchina.

Mankato East would go on to hold its lead until under two minutes to go, when the Cougars scored on an empty net to seal the victory at 5-2.

With the loss, Owatonna’s record moves to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in conference.

The Huskies will travel to the Rochester Recreation Center next to face Rochester Century on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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