Swanson's hat trick powers Crookston past Detroit Lakes, 4-2
The Crookston girls' hockey team hasn't had an easy time finishing off scoring chances this season. As a result, the Pirates' coaches have been teaching tenacity and grit in front of the net.
Reese Swanson has already taken that to heart. Not that it's foreign to her, anyway.
Swanson found the back of the net three times Friday night to earn her first varsity hat trick, leading Crookston to a 4-2 win over Detroit Lakes at the Crookston Sports Center. The win was the Pirates' third straight.
"She comes about it naturally, she just wants to go and win those races," said Crookston coach Tim Moe. "Very competitive kid, and that's what you need around the net."
At the beginning of the season, Swanson was playing defense for the Pirates (4-4, 2-3 Section 8A). But Crookston started 1-3, thanks to a 3-1 loss in its season opener and two subsequent shutouts, so Moe decided his team needed more offensive punch.
He moved Swanson to forward, and it paid off immediately. The freshman scored her first varsity goal on a breakaway against Fargo North-South. She scored against West Fargo United in the Pirates' next game, too.
On her first goal Friday, she set up right atop the crease, making herself available for linemate Addie Fee (8, F). Fee passed the puck to Swanson, and Swanson took her chance with purpose, slashing a low, hard shot past Leah Honer to give Crookston a 1-0 lead early the first period.
It was a far cry from the Pirates' last two games against West Fargo and East Grand Forks, two games in which they heavily outshot their opponents but couldn't break through until the final minutes. On Friday, by contrast, they took control early and never relinquished it.
"It really boosted the momentum of the game," Swanson said. "When you score early, that just makes the other team worried and get back on their heels."
Just 50 seconds into the second period, Swanson skated down the middle on a 3-on-1 and reeled in a crossing pass from Aleah Bienek (Jr., F). Honer stopped Swanson's first try with her right pad, but Swanson backhanded the rebound home anyway.
Swanson finished off her hat trick 13 minutes into the second period with another goal off a rebound. Fee delivered a pass to Swanson in front of the net, Honer stopped Swanson's initial effort, but Swanson stuck with the puck and jammed home her third of the night.
"It was exciting because it's my first varsity hat trick, but I also felt great that my teammates gave me the assist," Swanson said. "Addie's (in her) first year on varsity, and she needs to excel too. I was just happy for all of us."
Nothing Swanson did Friday night was particularly stylish or jaw-dropping — but in truth, that's a compliment of the highest order.
Her performance was one built on strength, effort and just a dash of savvy. It's a formula that's as repeatable as it is effective.
The Pirates have other players that can play defense, according to Moe. They don't have anyone else quite like Swanson.
"Wherever we put her, we know that she's gonna do really good things," Moe said. " ... She's a strong kid who shoots the puck well and she's aggressive, and we need that up on the forward line."
Swanson completed her trifecta with 21 minutes to play, but those 21 minutes almost went awry for Crookston. Madison Olson scored for Detroit Lakes (4-2, 1-1) in the final seconds of the second period — the first goal against the Pirates in over 120 minutes of game time.
With 14 minutes to play, Catherine Tiedemann (Sr., F) answered to make it 4-1, a goal that loomed larger and larger as the game's end drew nearer. Crookston spent nearly half of the third period on the penalty kill, the product of what Moe thought was poor discipline and positioning.
The Lakers took advantage when Haley Stattelman beat Kailee Magsam (So.) with three minutes to play.
"That's something that we need to address," Moe said. "We only took four in all our previous games, and then we took four the third period. ... We just need to settle ourselves down again, refocus, and hopefully take care of that going into next week."
But while the Pirates have questions after a shaky final 17 minutes, they'll be able to answer them from the comfort of a three-game winning streak. That's in large part due to Swanson, who on Friday delivered the tenacity they've been looking for all season.
UP NEXT: The Pirates will take on Grand Forks (N.D.) Tuesday, Feb. 9 at the Crookston Sports Center.
The KnightRiders are 9-6 on the season. Crookston will be the first team from Minnesota they've faced. Last season, they beat the Pirates, 3-2, in Crookston.
"We can't get too caught up with ourselves," Swanson said. "We need to stay humble but we also need to have our confidence, and we're gaining that after winning three times in a row."
Detroit Lakes 0-1-1—2
- 11:01 first period (Crookston): Reese Swanson (Addie Fee)
- 16:07 second period (Crookston): Reese Swanson (Aleah Bienek) power play
- 4:15 second period (Crookston): Reese Swanson (Addie Fee, Kenze Epema)
- 0:05 second period (DL): Madison Olson (Haley Stattelman)
- 13:55 third period (Crookston): Catherine Tiedemann (Nora Peterson)
- 2:56 third period (DL): Haley Stattelman (Emma Coley) power play
- Crookston: Kailee Magsam 15 saves on 17 shots
- Detroit Lakes: Leah Honer 38 saves on 42 shots
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