Pirates frustrated by Baker, KnightRiders in 2-1 defeat
The ice told one story. The scoreboard told another.
One side of the ice, the side that Grand Forks goaltender Kaylee Baker was tasked with protecting, was covered with snow and blade imprints. The Crookston girls' hockey team's side, by contrast, almost had a sheen to it.
Someone familiar with hockey, such as Pirate coach Tim Moe, would draw conclusions from the rink like an archaeologist interprets a dig site. It's clear that the Pirates controlled the game and had many more chances to score.
And yet, the KnightRiders scored twice on their seven shots, while Crookston, with 40 shots, scored only once.
Give much of the credit for Grand Forks' 2-1 win to Baker, who couldn't have been more outstanding Friday night. She constantly kept her chest square to the puck and fluidly moved from post to post. Combined with her large frame, this made her a veritable wall.
"Those are really the two things that you need when you're a goalie," Moe said. "... The Grand Forks kid squared to the puck, and even when you're getting her moving side-to-side you're not able to get it past her because she gets over so quick."
But oh, did the Pirates keep trying.
Senior Nora Peterson had a chance right on the doorstep that Baker gloved. Eighth-grader Addie Fee pounced on the rebound of a Reese Swanson shot and rang one off the post. Crookston (4-7-1) outshot the KnightRiders 13-1 in the first period, and 12-0 to begin the second period. The Pirates' suffocating forecheck didn't allow Grand Forks any time and space on the puck.
"We played extremely well in the offensive zone," Moe said. "When they had the puck and were trying to break it out of the neutral zone, our forwards did a fantastic job of forechecking them and not letting them get it out. Our defense did a nice job of stepping up and keeping the puck in their zone, so it was tough for them to get it down into our zone."
While the KnightRiders (14-8) couldn't sustain any pressure, they did plenty of damage on the occasional counterattack. With 2:45 left in the second period, Magsam made a pad save on a rush, but Emily Becker tapped home the rebound for the game's first goal.
In the third period, Catherine Tiedemann decided she'd had enough. The senior cruised into the slot and flicked the puck over Baker's right shoulder. With 16 minutes to play, it was the Pirates' 31st shot on goal, but first one in. It was Baker's lone mistake of the night.
"It kind of fooled their goalie," Moe said. "I think she went down thinking it was gonna come hard and low, and I almost think it hit something or what happened, it almost seemed like it fluttered or knuckled on her and just kind of floated up over her shoulder. Many more better opportunities, I think we had to score. But sometimes ... just shoot the puck and see what happens."
That's been a familiar theme for the Pirates this season. They've gotten used to bombarding their opponents with chances, only to be forced to wait until the very last moment to reap the fruits of their labor. See a 3-2 win over West Fargo United on Jan. 28 in which the shot differential was 43-14, or a 1-0 win over East Grand Forks on Feb. 2 (36-18).
And sometimes — like the first time Crookston and Grand Forks played, a 5-2 KnightRider win on Feb. 9 where Crookston outshot them 31-20 — the Pirates haven't gotten rewarded at all.
When Crookston took a late penalty, Averi Greenwood scored for the KnightRiders, and Baker stood tall for the remaining 2:16, Friday became another one of those nights.
"I hope we build off of the positives," Moe said. "We're playing defense fantastic right now. We're smothering teams in the offensive zone, and we're not letting them do what they want to do to get the puck out. But we need to score more goals."
UP NEXT: The Pirates will play Bemidji Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Bemidji. Crookston beat the Lumberjacks twice last season: a 4-0 win on Dec. 10, 2019 was the Pirates' first conference win in five years, and a 3-2 win last February wrapped up an 11-win regular season.
Grand Forks 0-1-1—2
- 2:45 second period (Grand Forks): Emily Becker (Narria Neubert)
- 15:54 third period (Crookston): Catherine Tiedemann (Morgan Nelson)
- 2:16 third period (Grand Forks): Averi Greenwood (Shaley Richards, Maya Tellmann) power play
- Crookston: Kailee Magsam 5 saves on 7 shots
- Grand Forks: Kailee Baker 39 saves on 40 shots
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