The Broncos scored four unanswered goals in seven minutes in the third period to overcome a 3-1 deficit.
CROOKSTON - International Falls scored four goals in a row in the third period, two by Grace Bragg (Sr. F), and came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Crookston Pirates by a 5-4 final.
“We got to be better in the third,” Pirates Head Coach Tim Moe said. “In situations like that, we just got to play better defensively and play smarter and we weren’t able to finish it off today.”
Maria Vollom (Jr. F), Gwyneth Shinners (So. F) and Olivia Wright (Sr. F) joined Bragg as goal-scorers for the Broncos (9-12-1, 4-6 Section 7A).
Nora Peterson (So. F), Samantha Sanders (Fr. F), Grace Fischer (8th Grade F) and Rylee Solheim (Fr. D) found the back of the net for the Pirates (4-18-1, 2-6 Section 8A). Crookston’s four goals served as their highest offensive mark since scoring six on December 7, 2018 against Morris-Benson.
Grace Wegner (Sr. G) played between the pipes for International Falls and stopped 15 shots. Grace Koshney (So. G) faced 41 shots and saved 36.
International Falls controlled time of possession and shots on goal for the first period, yet found themselves trailing 1-0. Crookston needed only three shots to take a 1-0 lead, and Peterson scored her seventh goal of the year. Assists went to Cat Tiedemann (So. F) and Solheim.
“We got outplayed a little bit in the first period,” Moe said. “To come out with a 1-0 lead, that was better than I could hope for. Nora Peterson ended up scoring a really nice goal there. Catherine was able to find her, [Nora] was able to use her speed to go right around a defenseman and make a nice play.”
Less than minute into the second period, the Broncos took advantage of a Tiedemann elbowing penalty and tied the game on Vollom’s goal, assisted by Taylor Spears (Sr. D) and Kaili Graves (Fr. F).
Sanders gave Crookston the lead right back with her third goal of the season. Tiedemann and Peterson tallied the assists, and the Pirates went ahead 2-1 with 8:53 left in the frame.
Morgan Rasmussen (Sr. F) committed a hooking penalty, and the Pirates used it to notch their first power play goal of the game 12 minutes into the second period. A scrum formed in the crease, and Fischer eventually knocked in the puck for her first career goal. Assist credit went to Dillynn Wallace (Fr. F) and Jenna Seaver (8th Grade D).
“That’s Grace Fischer’s first goal in a varsity uniform,” Moe said. “She had four goals today; she had three in the JV game. Sam had three goals today; she had two in the JV game. Big game for those two, and they were able to get on the scoreboard for us.”
The Broncos led the shots on goal category 23-13, but trailed 3-1 heading into the second intermission.
The lopsided shots on goal finally paid dividends in the third period. It began with a breakaway goal by Bragg, which made it a 3-2 game favoring Crookston. Seventeen seconds later, International Falls tied the game on a score from Shinners, assisted by Bragg.
Bragg capped off three Bronco goals in a 2:17 stretch with a go-ahead score from the blue line that went five-hole, and the Broncos held their first lead 4-3 with 9:37 to go. Wright added on to the lead five minutes later for a 5-3 score. Vollom and Shinners took the assists on Wright's goal.
“I thought we were doing just fine, and then, all of a sudden, we end up with a really bad change,” Moe said. “[The] defenseman thought the forward had it completely under control in the zone. So the defenseman left, forward got it poked off her stick and it must’ve been a 3-on-0 or something on our goalie. That just started some momentum.”
The Broncos went on a 5-on-3 power play and looked to remove all doubt. However, after a cleared puck by Tiedemann, Solheim gained possession of the puck and brought Crookston within one down 5-4 with 3:07 to play. The goal was Solheim's second on the year.
“Rylee is such a dynamic player, and she wants to play forward all the time,” Moe said. “I just can’t put her up there because she’s so good on the defensive side. Rylee jumped in the forecheck and did a nice job at the blue line winning that puck battle and was able to make a really nice play.”
International Falls fended off a 6-on-5 attack in the final minute and closed out a 5-4 win to hand Crookston their third straight loss.
The Pirates completed their regular season and will likely head to Detroit Lakes on Thursday, February 7 for the first round of the Section 8A Tournament. The Lakers have outscored Crookston 10-3 in two games this season.
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