Red Wing gets 'wake-up call' in opener

SOUTH ST.  PAUL, Minn. — Maybe Red Wing girls hockey coach Scott Haley should have seen it coming, but that didn't make Tuesday's performance in the season opener any easier to swallow after third-ranked South St. Paul throttled sixth-ranked Red Wing 9-3 in what could be a state tournament preview.

The Spartans return 15 regulars — and played a freshman goalie who started for Albert Lea last season — from a program that has won four state titles since 2002 and finished second last winter. On the flip side, the Wingers lost just one varsity regular from last season's consolation title squad and Haley has called it the most talented team in program history.

But things went sour for Red Wing in the very first minute, as a penalty put the Wingers back on their heels. It turned out to be a preview of the next 51 minutes, as the Spartans controlled play throughout in claiming a 36-14 advantage in shots.

"We've been trying to instill confidence that this group can do something special, but we're going to have to work a lot harder than we did tonight," Haley said. "I think it was a wake-up call."

While the Spartans appear primed for another big season, Red Wing has been a notoriously slow starting team over the past few years. Part of that is scheduling difficult non-conference opponents, but Haley had hoped his veteran — though still young — squad could turn that around this season. Instead, South St. Paul's top line of three seniors and two juniors made things look easy.


The Spartans led 3-1 after the first period and controlled the puck virtually the entire second period while expanding the lead to 8-2. Three of the five second-period goals came in one disastrous two-minute stretch.

Red Wing junior defender Paige Haley, who has committed to the University of Minnesota, said she saw some heads drop during that difficult stretch. The Wingers have just five upperclassmen on its 16-player varsity roster.

"I didn't see a whole lot of passion," said Paige Haley, who tallied a goal and an assist. "This was a horrible way to start the season … (but) that's definitely how we learn. We always have four really tough games to start the season and then hit it off. We can't take anything for granted because we definitely have a target on our back."

Fellow defender Elle Anderson added a second period goal, while both Anderson and Haley assisted on Nicole Schammel's third-period goal.

Red Wing senior goalie Lisa Nibbe made 27 saves, including stoning the Spartans on a handful of breakaways. However, she gave up at least three goals on rebounds and faced consistent pressure all game.

The Wingers return to action today against Hastings, a quality Class AA program, before playing Missota Conference favorite Shakopee Tuesday in their home opener.


First period — 1. SSP, Emily Reibert (Riley Viner) 2:58. 2. SSP, Bridgette Miller (Nikki Karg, Emily Engelmeier) 6:57. 1. RW, Paige Haley (unassisted) 8:14. 3. SSP, Engelmeier PP (Abby Palmquist) 14:06


Second period — 4. SSP, Abbey Atkinson (Maddie DeSmith) 6:01. 5. SSP, Viner (Lauren Wilcox, Sam LaShomb) 6:57. 6. SSP, LaShomb (unassisted) 7:53. 7. SSP, Miller (Anna Barlow, Karg) 11:00. 8. SSP, Engelmeier (Barlow, Wilcox) 13:54. 2. RW, Elle Anderson (unassisted) 15:18.

Third period — 9. SSP, LaShomb (Barlow) 6:54. 3. RW, Nicole Schammel (Anderson, Haley) 10:05.

Shots on goal — RW 5-3-6—14; SSP 19-11-6—36. Goalies — RW, Lisa Nibbe (36

shots, 27 saves); SSP, Sydney Conley (14 shots, 11 saves).


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