Austin Packers girls hockey upends Mankato West/Loyola/St. Clair 5-4 Saturday afternoon

The Austin Packers girls hockey team played host to the Scarlets of Mankato West/Loyola/St. Clair in a Big 9 Conference clash at Riverside Arena Saturday afternoon, and a hat trick from senior defenseman and captain Sara Wangen, plus a third period tally from sophomore defenseman Allie Davidson was enough to earn the Packers their first win of the season by a score of 5-4.

Wangen gave Austin a 1-0 lead at 6:24 of the first period with a blistering wrist shot from just beyond the top of the face-off circles that beat West goaltender Alayna Smith high to the glove side.  Sophomore center Lauren Bowe, who won a face-off to get the puck to Wangen picked up her second assist of the season on the goal, and Wangen gave Austin a 2-0 lead at 3:22 of the second period on an end-to-end rush that saw her split two defensemen, drive to the net and roof a wrister over the glove of Smith and under the crossbar.  Wangen then earned an assist on Austin’s third goal of the game at 5:27 of the period when she fed a pass to Bowe, who then found senior forward A.J. Barrera with a pass in the right circle.  Barrera fired a wrister from the right face-off dot that Smith turned away, but the rebound trickled into the crease, where Bowe stuffed the puck into the empty net for her first goal of the season and a 3-0 Austin lead.

The momentum of the game then swung toward Mankato West later in the second period when Penelope Gorman re-directed a point shot at the top of the crease from defenseman Tori Tosch past Austin netminder Chloe Schaal for a 5 on 3 power-play goal at 9:01 of the period to cut the Austin lead to 3-1, and two goals from 7th grade wing Maree Zimmerman at 14:48 and 16:08 of the period knotted the game at 3 at the end of two periods.

The Packers re-took the lead at 1:32 of the third period when Wangen, who had just come out of the penalty box after being called for interference late in the second period took in a feed from junior defensman Peyton Squire off the right wing boards, rushed in on a breakaway and fired the puck past Smith for a 4-3 lead.  Sophomore Allie Davidson then provided the eventual game-winner at 3:39 of the period when sophomore forward Alyssa Vlasaty won a puck battle along the back wall in the Scarlets’ end and found linemate Yazmine Huerta with a short pass.  Huerta then fed a pass to a wide-open Davidson, who then beat Smith with a wrister from between the hashmarks to give Austin a 5-3 lead.  Mankato West, though, refused to fold, and Penelope Gorman scored her second goal of the game at 13:08 to cut the Packer lead to 5-4, but Schaal and the Austin defense were able to hold off the Scarlets the rest of the way for the win.

Austin outshot Mankato West 37-19 for the game, and Schaal earned her first varsity win by making 15 saves, while Smith turned away 32 shots for the Scarlets, including the 1,000th save of her career in the second period.  Austin was whistled for six penalties for 12 minutes, while West committed one penalty for two minutes, and they were 1-6 on the power play, while Austin was 0 for 1.

With the win, Austin is now 1-7 on the season, and the Packers return to action at home next Tuesday night versus Minnesota River, with face-off at Riverside Arena at 7:00 p.m.