Seniors combine for one last goal, giving Pirates 2-1 win over Fergus Falls
You could take what happened Thursday night at the Crookston Sports Center and whip it into a movie script, send it out to Hollywood and try to make some money. Maybe Tim Moe would do it himself if he thought anyone would believe it enough to buy it.
But how much does believability really matter? Maybe it's okay to realize that the best scripts often write themselves; that no silver-screen retouching is necessary to heighten the experience any further.
Crookston's three seniors, the catalysts of so much improvement over the program's last six years, combined on one final goal on Senior Night to bid their home rink adieu. 12 seconds into overtime, Nora Peterson ripped home a one-timer off assists by Catherine Tiedemann and Kenze Epema, giving the Pirates a 2-1 win over Fergus Falls.
"We talked on the bench, (we wanted to) make this a memorable night and make this a happy ending," said a visibly flushed Peterson. "Us three seniors, it meant a lot that it was us."
Added Moe, Crookston's coach: "You couldn't write it any better."
Happy endings don't necessarily stem from happy beginnings. Three years ago, the Crookston program teetered on the verge of being cut due to low numbers. The Pirates won just 10 games between 2014 and 2017.
Since then, Crookston has blossomed into a deep squad full of potential with plenty of young talent on the rise. Epema and Tiedemann, members of the varsity squad since seventh grade, have seen it all. Peterson, a forward from Mayville who's been playing for Crookston since 2018, only came in more recently.
As a group, they've helped guide the Pirates to a breakthrough 12-win campaign last year, a 7-8-1 record this year, and most recently, a win over a team they had lost seven straight games to before Thursday.
It's a testament to the seniors' importance in laying a foundation that eighth-grader Addie Fee, one of the Pirates' many young, talented players on the rise, got them on the board first. With 2:33 left in the first period, freshman Reese Swanson fired a pass from the corner, which Fee tapped in for her fourth goal in as many games.
"We've been telling her all year, it's gonna go in eventually," Moe said. "She's scored at every level, she's very skilled. Just nice to see her continue to be able to put the puck at the net."
In between Fee's opener and Peterson's closer, Kailee Magsam played hero for Crookston. The sophomore goaltender made one mistake, when she was beaten on a long shot from the right side by Rylynn Krein in the second period. Magsam was perfect otherwise, making 20 saves and stoning multiple Otter breakaways.
To Moe, it was Magsam's confidence that stood out most, especially considering her lack of experience. This season is not only Magsam's first as the Pirates' starter, but her third year playing hockey ever. Still, she's stood tall for Crookston, playing every minute of every game this year.
"You can't rattle her," Moe said. "She's got a short memory that you need as a goalie, and she's so athletic, so she's able to make a lot of saves. Really proud of her effort."
Lexi Metcalf, though, was just as solid for Fergus Falls (8-6-1), stopping 25 shots in regulation. In the third period, she took away two prime chances by Swanson in front of the net, allowing the game to continue to overtime.
"I told them (before overtime) that so far, it's been a pretty good book for their careers here and in this game," Moe said. "But we've got a final chapter to write."
On Senior Night, with Crookston's largest crowd in attendance and an assortment of food, balloons and senior memorabilia situated on the southeast side of the Sports Center, Moe told his team one more thing: do it, and do it quick. The Pirates had a party to attend, and it needed to be a happy one.
Lo and behold, Peterson won the draw at center ice and passed it to Epema, who burst down the right flank and skated deep into the Fergus Falls zone. Tiedemann skated down the left wing and set up for Epema's cross-ice pass. Peterson skated down the middle and positioned herself right in front of the net.
The passes came in rhythm, the puck never spending more than a millisecond on Tiedemann or Peterson's stick. Epema passed it to Tiedemann, Tiedemann passed it to Peterson, and Peterson rifled it past Metcalf. It was just the way the three of them had visualized it.
Peterson threw her arms in the air, and as the entire Crookston team skated out to mob her, the tears began to flow. Ten minutes later, she still hadn't come down.
"I'm gonna cry again," she said.
UP NEXT: The Pirates have a quick turnaround, as they travel to Roseau Friday to take on the Rams, ranked No. 9 in Class AA. Roseau is 10-3-1 on the season, and its three losses have all come to Warroad, the No. 2 team in Class A.
"Roseau's one of those teams that we haven't played for a long time because we haven't been good enough to go out and compete with them," Moe said. "Now it's gonna be exciting to see how we go and match up."
The Pirates last played the Rams on Jan. 10, 2017, with Roseau winning 11-0 in Roseau.
Fergus Falls 0-1-0-0—1
- 2:33 first period (Crookston): Addie Fee (Reese Swanson, Aleah Bienek)
- 7:10 second period (FF): Rylynn Krein (Marilyn Karsnia, Piper Andrews)
- 7:48 overtime (Crookston): Nora Peterson (Catherine Tiedemann, Kenze Epema)
- Crookston: Kailee Magsam 20 saves on 21 shots
- Fergus Falls: Lexi Metcalf 25 saves on 27 shots
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