After opening their 2022-2023 season at Fairmont last Thursday, the Austin Packers girls hockey team entertained Big 9 Conference foe Rochester Century for their home opener at Riverside Arena Saturday, and it was Daelyn Williams and Kailey Birkstrand each scoring a pair of goals for the Panthers, with senior defensman Grace Oyen adding a pair of assists in an 8-2 win.
Williams put Century ahead 1-0 with a goal at 11:46 of the first period, and Birkstrand expanded the lead to 2-0 :31 second later. The Panthers netted the eventual game-winning goal early the second period at 1:33 when Megan Gamble made the score 3-0, but it was then Austin’s Sara Wangen cutting the deficit to 3-1 with a short-handed tally at 8:45 of the period. Williams scored her second goal of the game at 14:38 of the second to make the score 4-1, and Birkstand’s second of the game at 1:27 of the third period increased the Panther lead to 5-1. Wangen tallied again at 3:35 of the period, with an assist to Arianna Barerra to make the score 5-2, but it was Century firing back with three unanswered goals of their own for the 8-2 final.
Century outshot Austin 33-16 for the game, and each team was penalized twice for four minutes, with each team scoreless on the power play. Eighth-grade netminer Chole Schaal faced 33 shots for the Packers and made 25 saves, while Century goaltender Abigail Conners faced 16 shots and made 14 saves to earn the win.
With the loss, Austin is 0-2 overall to start the season and 0-1 in the Big 9 Conference, and the Packers are right back into action tonight (Monday) at Riverside Arena versus Owatonna, with faceoff at 7:00 p.m.