The Pirates suffered a critical loss Friday to East Grand Forks, losing 5-1 to the Green Wave on the road. Unofficially, the Pirates will be seeded No. 4 for the upcoming Section 8A Playoffs and the Green Wave will be No. 3.
Crookston (12-11) finished their season on a high note Saturday, however, with a 5-1 win over Northern Lakes, which is a cooperative between Pequot Lakes, Crosby-Ironton and Pine River-Backus.
The Pirates will probably host Park Rapids, who they beat 4-2 and 2-0 in the regular season, Thursday in the opening round of the section tournament. The winner will face No. 1 Warroad in East Grand Forks on Monday, Feb. 11.
"Our next game will be against, we're pretty sure, Park Rapids," said Pirate head coach Jeff Perreault. "Right now we are worried about a very good Park Rapids team. There is an old coaches saying, 'it's tough to beat a team three times.' The last time we faced them we put up 58 shots and only scored two goals. In practice we'll be doing a lot of getting traffic to the net, redirecting shots and getting rebounds. We have to get something done in their zone. Right now that's our focus. To get in their offensive zone, get chances and cause their goalie to struggle on that particular night.
“We haven't solved Warroad yet if we do get past Park," Perreault continued. "Stranger things have happened. Buffalo beat them and we can do it too. We would need to play the best we can. If we do that we'll have a chance."
CHS @ EGF
The Pirates came out and skated with the Green Wave in the first period but had a 2-1 deficit after to show for it.
Haley Mack put the Green Wave on the board at the 12:16 mark before Pirate senior Brianna Breiland tied it with her 47th goal of the season less than a minute later. East Grand Forks answered just 32 seconds later with a goal by Erica Eades.
"It was a good first period," said coach Perreault. "I thought we played well. We didn't generate as much offense as we wanted too. We were able to skate with them. They came at us quickly. Their team speed is something we struggled with throughout the game."
East Grand Forks extended its lead in the second period with CoCo Piche scoring at the 5:07 mark and Alexa Mack at the 9:29 mark. Piche scored the lone goal of the third period at the :16 mark.
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"We were up for them," Perreault said. "With their forecheck and their team speed, we didn't handle it well. On special teams there were some things we didn't handle well. For us, we wanted to see more pucks to the net and we passed up a lot of opportunities to shoot. That's credit to them. They kept us to the outside. Defensively, I thought we played OK. They got their chances and buried them."
Pirate eighth grader Lexie Cormican recorded 27 shots in goal. Madi Galstad had 19 saves for East Grand Forks.
CHS vs. NL
The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period with two goals from Breiland and one from senior defenseman Natasha Skala, who added another goal in the third period.
"It was a nice win against Pequot Lakes when we didn't know anything about them coming in," said Perreault. "They're a good team. For us, it's about trying to figure out how to motivate ourselves to play our best hockey. I thought we played a pretty good game. At times it was sloppy and we took some ill-advised penalties. To have some other girls score some goals other than just Brianna is key for us."
Breiland started it off with a power play goal at the 6:54 mark on an assist from freshman Tori Demarais. Skala notched her seventh goal of the season at the 8:19 mark with sophomore forward Sabrina Delorme getting the assist. Breiland made it 3-0 with 7:39 remaining with her 49th goal of the season.
Kaylyn Eggena put Northern Lakes on the board with 7:32 left in the second period with a power play goal.
The Pirates closed the door in the third, though, with Skala scoring 31 seconds in on an assist from freshman Leah Trostad. Delorme scored about two minutes later with her fifth of the season on an assist from Breiland.
Cormican made 17 saves in goal for the Pirates. Northern Lakes' Kat Jensen had 28 saves in goal.
"Lexie made some good ones," coach Perreault said. "She was keeping us right in that game. We gave up some pretty good, quality scoring chances and she closed the door. That's something that's vital going into the postseason, giving us a chance to win."