Seaver's late goal brings relief, pushes Crookston past West Fargo United, 3-2
The hockey gods are nothing if not a fickle bunch.
With two and a half minutes remaining in Crookston's game against West Fargo United Thursday night, sophomore defenseman Jenna Seaver reeled in a pass from Nora Peterson, smack-dab in the middle of the offensive zone, and let a shot fly as her momentum carried her to the right.
The puck didn't seem to knuckle much, if at all. There wasn't much traffic in front of the net. All things considered, it wasn't the fastest, hardest or sharpest shot that West Fargo goalie Madelyn Buchert had seen that evening.
But as it saucered towards the net, it deflected off a West Fargo defenseman. Then, it did what none of the previous 16 shots the Pirates had taken in the third period had.
Seaver's goal, the third of her varsity career, pushed Crookston over the finish line after a frustrating marathon of near-misses, giving it a 3-2 win over West Fargo United Thursday at the Crookston Sports Center.
It was a game which featured all the trappings of the Pirates' season so far. They made themselves at home deep in the offensive zone and never stopped firing away, only to be denied, again and again, on the scoreboard and subsequently in the win column. For 48 minutes, the contest seemed to want to make itself at home with Crookston's previous losses to Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks and Fargo North-South.
Then Seaver struck gold and the Pirates breathed a sigh of relief.
"You play well, you do a lot of things right, but you don't always see it," said Crookston coach Tim Moe. "You don't believe it sometimes, that you're actually doing those things right when you aren't getting rewarded with wins."
The Pirates (2-4) kicked off the scoring midway through the first period. Freshman forward Reese Swanson picked up where she left off against Fargo North-South, scoring her second career goal and second in as many games. But West Fargo was more efficient with its zone time, and led 2-1 after the opening 17 minutes thanks to two shots from outside the crease that beat sophomore Kailee Magsam.
"She might want those back," Moe said. "We'll have to go take a look on tape and see what happened."
Moe thought the second period, though, was West Fargo's best. United took eight shots on goal — over half its shots for the entire game — and "really came out with a push on us." For the middle 17 minutes, it was Crookston that had to withstand pressure.
The turning point came with 1:47 left in the period. Senior forward Nora Peterson, the Pirates' leading scorer, put home the game-tying goal off assists from Catherine Tiedemann (Sr., F) and Brekken Tull (Fr., F).
"I think that kind of propelled us into the third," Moe said. "Hockey's such a game of momentum. Once that started, early in that third period we forechecked and everybody just wanted to keep it going."
Moe likes to remind his team that the best defense is a strong offense, and during the third period, the Pirates' defense in the offensive zone was smothering. Most of the time, they had the puck on their sticks. If they didn't, they were skating at full speed trying to recover it. Their dominance on the forecheck in the final period held West Fargo (3-7-1) to only one shot on goal.
All the while, Buchert stood on her head — she'd finish the game with 40 saves. But the five players in front of her didn't have much left, and Crookston smelled blood in the water.
"They were tired," Seaver said. "We were just outplaying and outworking them."
West Fargo took a penalty — its eventual death knell — with three and a half minutes to play. The Pirates immediately took several shots on goal, but Buchert turned them all aside.
Then Peterson won a draw and shuttled the puck to Seaver, who had already let loose one solid shot during the power play.
Why not try another?
"(Buchert) just being bombarded for 13, 14 minutes straight, then we get a shot from out high," Moe said. "... I think that was the culmination of a lot of good things that we did."
Moe's spent much of the fledgling season reminding his players of their talent, even when the only statistic that matters didn't show it. Thursday night, he didn't have to throw in that caveat.
"(The coaches) were proud of us," Seaver said. "We worked hard for it. We deserved it."
Even the hockey gods agreed.
UP NEXT: The Pirates host East Grand Forks for the second time this season on Tuesday, Feb. 2 (7:30 p.m.). The Green Wave are 1-4 on the season, having lost four straight since their 2-0 win over Crookston on Jan. 15.
West Fargo United 2-0-0—0
- 8:27 first period (Crookston): Reese Swanson (Jenna Seaver)
- 6:00 first period (WFU): Morgan Bents (Mia Gervais)
- 1:31 first period (WFU): Trissa Olafson (Mia Gervais)
- 1:47 second period (Crookston): Nora Peterson (Catherine Tiedemann, Brekken Tull)
- 2:30 third period (Crookston): Jenna Seaver (Nora Peterson) power play
- Crookston: Kailee Magsam 12 saves on 14 shots
- West Fargo United: Madelyn Buchert 40 saves on 43 shots
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