Hockey: Pioneers still rolling; Tartan, North split wins

It was a week of split fortunes in hockey, as Hill-Murray and Tartan kept up their winning ways but North struggled.

Hill-Murray 3 — Benilde -St. Margaret 2

The Hill-Murray Pioneers took to the road Jan. 25 to play the highly touted Benilde-St. Margaret Red Knights at the St. Louis Park Ice Center.

The Pioneers got the upper hand within minutes, as assists from Sarah Bobrowski and Laura Anderson helped Jac Kaasa score at 3:59.

Hill-Murray held the one-goal edge through the first and second periods, but the Red Knights drew blood at 1:44 into the third period to knot the count at 1-1.

Just under two minutes later, a feed from Kenzie Prater found Jess Bonfe, who hit the back of the Red Knights’ goal at 3:33.

Eight minutes later, on a pass off the stick of Anderson, Kaasa potted her second goal of the game with a blast to the back twines at 11:24.

The Red Knights countered with another tally at 14:59, but it proved too little too late.

Spring Lake Park 4 — North 1

The Spring Lake Park Panthers came to Polar Arena Jan. 29 ready for action, posting their first goal at 10:21.

The Polars, on an assist from Haley Schanks to Abby Glaus, quickly returned the favor, knotting the score at 14:40.

But the visitors countered quickly, with a second tally at 15:56.

The Panthers added two more goals in the second period and boarded the bus for the return ride home with the 4-1 triumph.

South St. Paul 6 — Tartan 4

Tartan traveled to Wakota Arena Jan. 29 and felt the chill of a non-home-ice disadvantage.

The South St. Paul Packers handed Tartan a 6-4 Classic Suburban Conference loss.

At 1:56 of the first period, the Packers brought their partisans to their feet when Anna Barlow, on an unassisted score, put South St. Paul in the lead 1-0.

Stung, the Titans began buzzing and applying pressure in the Packers’ zone and saw their efforts begin to pay off.

On a power play, Ellie Tabaka sent a feed to Maddie Ciolkosz who relayed the disc to Hannah Croonquist. Croonquist made the score at 12:24.

Off the ensuing face-off the Titans, on a second power play, charged into South St Paul territory with renewed vigor.

Jaimee Nowicki feathered a feed to Ciolkosz, who notched a 2-1 goal just 20 seconds later at 12:44.

Before the period ended, the Titans took a 3-1 margin when Gabriella Bjellos hit the blade of Croonquist, who notched her second goal at 16:45.

If the first period belonged to Tartan, the South St. Paul six made sure that didn’t happen in period two.

At 9:30 into the period Maddie DeSmith fed Abby Palmquist, who sent the biscuit on to Mackenzie Burke. She hit the back twines to pull the Packers within one at 2-3.

Less than two minutes later South St. Paul knotted the count when Burke to Bridgette Miller to Maddie DeSmith saw DeSmith’s laser shot hit the Tartan goal at 11:17.

The Packers regained the lead at 15:49 when Tessa DeSmith sent the puck to M. DeSmith who sent a pass to Palmquist. The senior winger wasted no time banging home the 4-3 score.

Play moved into the third session and South St. Paul extended their lead as ninth-grader Burke blasted a shot through traffic that found the far reaches of Tartan’s goal at 9:30.

South St. Paul took their 4-3 margin onto the third canto. It soon became 5-3 when an unassisted, game-winning tally off the stick of Anna Barlow went up on the board at 2:04.

The Titans rallied with a pass from Croonquist that found Tabaka alone in the slot. The Tartan talent sent a shot inside the pipes for the final Tartan tally at 15:42.

The Titans pulled their goalie in favor of a sixth attacker, but the effort backfired when Palmquist sent an up-ice feed to Miller, who hit the empty net for the 6-4 final in the shootout between the well-matched squads.

Hill-Murray 3 — South St. Paul 0

The South St. Paul Packers met Hill-Murray at Aldrich Arena for a Jan. 30 CSC girls’ hockey battle.

It soon became apparent that Hill-Murray, undefeated heading into the game, would dominate this tilt as well. Pioneer netkeeper Leah Patrick stopped the 14 missiles headed toward the back of the Hill-Murray goal to gain the 3-0 shut-out.

South St. Paul goalie Sydney Conley put in an even more impressive effort on the losing side. The Pioneers outshot the Packers by a wide margin, 42-14, and Conley stopped 39 of the 41 shots she faced while between the pipes. The final Hill-Murray score came on an empty net.

Brittney Anderson, with assists from Gretta Steigauf and Samantha Boyer, posted the 7:19 first-period score.

The Pioneers moved to a 2-1 margin in period two when Rebecca Zarembinski and Kenzie Prater combined to move the puck to Jess Bonfe. She scored at 5:09 of the second canto.

With Conley nearly standing on her head to make saves in the South St. Paul net, play moved into the final minute, when the Packers pulled her in an attempt to find the right combination.

It turned out to be the wrong move; Mekenzie Steffen hit a breaking Kenzie Prater, who slid the disc into the open net at 16:43.

Tartan 7 — Cambridge-Isanti-Mora-Pine City 1

In a non-conference tilt played at the Isanti Ice Arena Feb. 1, the Tartan Titans turned an early setback into a decisive win.

Just 1:09 into the game the score was 1-0 against the Titans.

Gaining points for the Titans were Jordan Jackson (1-2); Maddie Ciolkosz (1-2); Gabriella Bjellos (2-0); Ellie Tabaka (1-1); Claire Herzog (0-2); Taylor Bowlin (1-0); Jadin Young (0-1); and Jaimee Nowicki (0-1).

Hill-Murray 1 — Edina 1

The Edina Hornets aren’t in the CSC conference, so their tie with the Hill-Murray Pioneers Feb 1 at Aldrich Arena won’t count in the Pioneers’ CSC standing. But Hill-Murray will probably take the memory of the hard-fought match forward into he postseason.

It took 59 minutes for the two to skate to a 1-1 tie, but when the final ice chip had fallen to the ice, nothing had been settled.

Shots on goal favored the Pioneers 31-25, but the big number on the board gave neither an advantage.

The Hornets drew first blood with a goal at 4:47 of the second canto.

The Pioneers responded with a third-period score. An assist from Lindsey Featherstone hit the blade of Abigail Boreen and the eighth-grade winger rifled a shot to the back of the Edina goal at 7:45.

Tartan 10 — Richfield 3 

In a blowout boys’ hockey matchup played Jan. 30 at the Richfield Ice Arena, the Titans of Tartan exploded for 10 goals in a 10-3 trouncing of the Richfield Spartans.

The teams ended period one with Tartan owning a 5-2 margin. The second 17 minutes of action saw Tartan on top of a 9-3 leeway and period three saw the Titans gain the only score.

In the high-scoring game, Rusty Axtman and Derek Sievers gained 5 points each on a goal and four assists. Picking up three points were Dan Betz (2-1); Brady O’Sullivan (2-1); and Zach Ledman (2-1); while also gaining points were Zack Wydra (1-1); Eric Geskermann (0-2); Ben Engwer (1-0); Nathan McDonald (0-1); and Connor O’Sullivan (0-1).

Hill-Murray 10 — South St. Paul 1

The Hill-Murray Pioneers put seven goals on the board Jan. 30, in a game at Wakota Arena against the South St. Paul Packers, before the home-team Packers were able to score.

The lone Packer tally came at 10:47 of the second period when assists off the stick of Dan Pietruszewski and Cameron Buhl found Riley M. Brandecker and he hit pay dirt.

Hill-Murray points were earned by Mitch Slattery (3-1); Logan Sharp (2-2); Dusty Krueger (1-3); Zach Mills (2-1); Tyler Funk (0-3); Noah Ondrusik (1-1); Casey Staum (1-0); Joey Anderson (0-1) Josh French (0-1); and Jake Wittl (0-1).

North 5 — Simley 2

The Simley Spartans scored a late first-period goal and took a 1-0 lead into the second session at a Jan. 30 matchup with North at Polar Arena.

Nick Bates sent a pass across to Michael Busch, who hit Aaron Leafgren. He sizzled the back twines for a power-play tally at 15:34.

The squads played the entire second period without a goal, but in the torrid third period there were six goals put up on the scoreboard.

The Oliver twins‚ Tyler and Justin, combined to feed Jimmy Salava who dented the back of the Simley goal at 7:57.

Next it was Justin sending a pass to Tyler, who scored at 10:48 to give the Polars a 2-1 leeway.

At 11:11 Simley took the North lead away when assists from Busch and Leafgren found Ben Illestchko open in the slot and he buried a blast for the 2-2 tally.

Two and a half minutes later, the Oliver twins combined to feed John Anderson. He put what turned out to be the game-winner behind the Simley netkeeper at 13:47.

Next it was Anderson and Justin Oliver who fed the disc to Jack Murnane and he put the puck into the far reaches at 15:16. 

The Spartans took a late penalty, and then pulled their goalkeeper in an attempt to salvage something from the deficit they faced.

Instead, the Polars’ Anderson to Tyler Oliver, who relayed it to Justin. That ended any Spartan hopes, as Oliver pushed the puck into the open net at 16:31 for the 5-2 final.

Hill-Murray 6 — North 0

In a game played Feb. 1 at Aldrich, the Hill-Murray Pioneers dominated the North Polars. Hill-Murray outshot the North six by a margin of 41-11 and handed them a 6-0 whitewash defeat.

In goal for the Pioneers and gaining the shutout was Sean Wendlandt.

The Pioneers scored three first-period tallies, two in the second and one in the third as they advanced their CSC record to 9-1.

Gaining points for the Pioneers were, Josh French (2-2); Zach Mills (0-3); Joey Anderson (2-0); Dusty Krueger (1-1); Jacob Olson (1-1); and with one assist each were, Davis Zarembinski, Casey Staum, Mitch Slattery, Mickey Anderson and Tyler Funk.

St.Thomas 8 — Tartan 4

The St. Thomas Cadets took their high-powered number-one Class A status into Titanville Feb. 1 for a CSC confrontation.

When they boarded the bus for the return trip to Mendota Heights, the Cadets had pushed the conference record to 8-1.

Tartan was scrambling as St. Thomas buzzed almost exclusively in the Titans’ defensive zone throughout the game.

Shots on goal were in favor of St. Thomas by 48-14.

Dylan McDonald put the first tally on the board for the Cadets. He took passes from Zach Weier and Peter Tufto and scored at 15:39 of period one.

As play moved into the second stanza the Titans knotted the count when Brady O’Sullivan fed the disc to Zach Ledman, who buried a blast at 6:24.

At the 8-minute mark, the Cadet’ Brian Hurley and Dylan McDonald slipped the puck to Tom Stang, who pushed the St.Thomas lead to 2-1.

At 12:12 it became 3-1 when Tom Novak scored an unassisted goal.

Just under three minutes later, Mac Schmidt passed to Novak. He fed Josh Hallum, who dented the back twines at 15:01 to send the teams to the second intermission with St. Thomas on top of a 4-1 count.

In third-period action, the Cadets took advantage of a power play as Alex Broetzman slipped the puck to Novak and he made good with a shot at 4:01.

Two minutes later, even with the Cadets shorthanded, Peter Tufto gained control of the puck and scored on a breakaway at 6:16.

Tartan fought hard to stay in the game. During a power play, feeds from Rusty Axtman and Eric Geskermann found Brady O’Sullivan, who put the puck between the St.  Thomas pipes for a goal at 9:16.

Two minutes later Tartan pulled within three when Ledman hit the blade of Axtman, who hit the back of the Cadets’ goal at 11:21.

St. Thomas responded with Schmidt and Stang, who combined to feed Christiano Versich, who blistered a blast into the Tartan net at 14:15.

The Cadets continued to put pressure on the Titans, with another score from Novak, who potted his hat trick tally at 15:17. Along with his one assist Novak was the leading point producer with four.

Just 24 seconds later the Titans put the final 4-8 score on the board when Ben Engwer and Eric Reddy put the puck on the stick of Brandon Ayde who whistled the final shot into the St. Thomas net at 15:38.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at


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