Penalties doom Crookston in 5-2 loss to Grand Forks
Reese Swanson went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in less than an hour.
The Crookston freshman, coming off her first career hat trick in the Pirates' 4-2 win over Detroit Lakes Friday, opened Tuesday's game against Grand Forks (N.D.) by taking the puck in her own zone, speeding up the ice and shooting past Kaylee Baker for a 1-0 lead just 38 seconds after the initial faceoff.
But in the second period, with Crookston down 3-1, Swanson skated towards the boards to win the puck but hit a KnightRider hard from behind, toppling her to the ice. The ensuing penalty, Swanson's second five-minute major of the period, doubled as a game misconduct, disqualifying her.
"She's not a dirty player by any means, but she's fast and aggressive and strong," said Crookston coach Tim Moe. "She just needs to learn to control her body a little bit, and if there's a kid in a compromising position along the boards, you don't have to bump her, you just have to go take the puck.
"Hopefully she learns from this, and I think she will. There's nobody who felt worse in that locker room than she did."
The Pirates saw their three-game winning streak come to an end Tuesday, falling to Grand Forks, 5-2. Pinning the loss on Swanson would be brutally unfair — after all, she accounted for one-half of her team's scoring. But her two major penalties pointed to a larger, team-wide problem.
Crookston (4-5) played remarkably clean hockey through its first seven and two-thirds games, taking just six penalties total. It didn't go to the box once against International Falls, Warroad and West Fargo (N.D.).
That pace might have been somewhat unsustainable, but against Detroit Lakes, it came crashing down. The Pirates committed four penalties in the final period alone, forcing them to sweat out the final 17 minutes instead of being able to coast to a win.
The KnightRiders (11-6) scored on two of Crookston's three penalties Tuesday. The first came late in the first period, when Maya Tellman beat Kailee Magsam (So., G) on a long shot from the left side to take the lead for good. The second came in the waning seconds of Swanson's first major, Tellman getting on the scoresheet a second time for a 3-1 lead.
"I don't even know how many (penalties) we took," Moe said. "But it was too many."
Averi Greenwood scored for Grand Forks early in the third period to make it 4-1. Kenze Epema (Sr., D) then roped a long shot into the top corner with 1:49 to play to give Crookston a puncher's chance, but Grand Forks put the game away on a last-second empty-netter.
"Kenze, I thought played fantastic," Moe said. "(Junior defenseman) Rylee Solheim played a fantastic game. She was all over the place, she was leading rushes, she played well defensively. That was really the bright spot. We had chances, just unable to get unable to get things going because we couldn't get any momentum."
The Pirates outshot the KnightRiders, 31-20, and both teams scored two goals in 5-on-5 play. In essence, it was penalties — once so uncharacteristic of Crookston — that decided the game.
"That's not how we want to play the game," Moe said. "We want to play fast and hard, but we want to be clean about it and we want to stay out of the penalty box. We need to do a better job getting that message through to the kids, and the kids need to take it to heart a little bit. When we play the game like we're capable of, fast and clean and hard, I think it's a lot of fun to watch."
UP NEXT: The Pirates travel to Thief River Falls Thursday night for a rematch of the season opener on Jan. 14, which the Prowlers won 3-1. The game was added to the schedule only recently, after both schools found they had the same empty date.
Thief River Falls is 3-3 on the season, 2-1 in Section 8A play. While Warroad is the runaway favorite to earn the section's No. 1 seed, Crookston has beaten Detroit Lakes and is 1-1 against East Grand Forks. Moe said Friday that the Pirates control their own destiny in the race for the No. 2 seed and a home semifinal, if they win out against the Green Wave, Lakers and Prowlers.
"We're looking forward to that opportunity, so there's definitely something to play for at the end," Moe said. "But for us, more importantly, (Thursday is) a chance to see how we've progressed through the season."
However, Crookston will be without Swanson — its leading scorer on the season with six goals — due to her game misconduct penalty.
"We're gonna face some adversity here, and that's not a bad thing sometimes ... to have to have some other kids step up," Moe said Tuesday.
Grand Forks 2-1-2—5
- 16:22 first period (Crookston): Reese Swanson (Aleah Bienek)
- 10:06 first period (Grand Forks): Emily Becker (Morgan Stenseth, Quinn Fournier)
- 3:40 first period (Grand Forks): Maya Tellman (Shaley Richards, Morgan Stenseth) power play
- 11:56 second period (Grand Forks): Maya Tellman (Morgan Stenseth) power play
- 12:18 third period (Grand Forks): Averi Greenwood
- 1:49 third period (Crookston): Kenze Epema (Morgan Nelson, Parker Strand)
- 0:07 third period (Grand Forks): Shaley Richards (Annika Presteng) empty net
- Crookston: Kailee Magsam 15 saves on 19 shots
- Grand Forks: Kaylee Baker 29 saves on 31 shots
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