St. Cloud – 3, Alex – 0

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Nothing against Ms. Klimek (37) here, but it may seem an odd photo with which to start a game report.  But then again, my middle name is “Odd.”  I actually started the game with a video, but after 2 1/2 minutes we weren’t able to get the puck out of our own end so I killed it.  (That’s three “buts” in the first three sentences – not a good sign.)  It’s then I realized we were probably in trouble.  So here’s where I begin my ramble.  Please take this in the spirit in which it is given, from someone who never played the game and sees, maybe, the 10 home games a year.

1781916_3945924263177_76084060_nWe were playing the St. Cloud Icebreakers.  Not St. Cloud Tech, not St. Cloud Apollo, not St. Cloud Cathedral, but (again?) all of St. Cloud.  This is an all-star team from a city of 65,000, exactly five times larger than Alexandria.  They were in in first place in the conference, with only one loss, that to the other one loss team, Sartell-St. Stephen-Sauk Rapids-Rice (twice as big as Alex).  They had so many suited players on their bench, there wasn’t enough room for them all to sit down.  And I thought, and St. Cloud can only field one team?  Now I know it’s a matter of economics – hockey is an expensive sport – but (again!) how do single schools compete?  [Mikko is today’s guest columnist photo.  Arrgghhhhh!]

Until this year, the Cardinals had always held their own against the bigger schools and the combined schools.  However, it has got to be really hard to fight that numbers game every year.  This is the first year we’ve really noticed that when we play these class AA schools, we haven’t been competitive.  We lost all 6 games (home & home) against the three biggest conference “schools,” including River Lakes, this year, only scoring a total of 5 goals in those 6 games.  And this game really defined the difference.  The Icebreakers were like watching a college team (at least on this night).  And they displayed the talents that really good hockey teams have:  1) they can pass, and 2) they can forecheck.  As a result of both, they outshot the Cards by two-to-one.  Sometimes that stat isn’t reflective of anything, but in this case it was.  Forechecking is like the full court press in basketball – it will wear you down and causes turnovers.  The Cards had trouble getting out of our end all night. The Icebreakers just did a great job of always having somebody in the passing lanes.  To maintain puck control, we often had to circle back behind our own goal to try to start over.  And the Icebreakers absolutely dominated the face-off circle – the Cards finally had to move Taylor back up from defense in the 3rd period to see if we could win a draw.  She held her own.

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[Sam receives a two Icebreaker escort.]

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[Two Icebreakers on Karina.   ]

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[Bailey started in goal and played the first period and a half.  Amy played the rest of the game.  This was just to keep them both sharp for the upcoming sections.  This was the last regular season game, and likely had no impact on the conference standings or the section seedings.]

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[Both goalies played fine.  Little Rev was also held out again, making sure she’s totally healthy for the tournament.]

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[Mel chases down the puck behind the St. Cloud goal.]

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[And tries to make a play out front.]

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[While Mel battles to hold position, the puck exits stage left.]

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[Mari not only sang the National Anthem again, she played a little hockey too!  🙂  ]

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[Mari in full stride.]

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[Micaela tries to hold goal position.]

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[Looks like a Lauren and Kaila skate-away after a goal?  We wished!]

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[Lauren looks like . . . oh, darn! ]

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[Rachel gets a shot off.]

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[Her defender rides her off as the puck  is deflected wide.]

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[On those occasions when we did penetrate the Icebreaker zone we did have some nice flurries.  However, their goalie was the biggest player on the ice and sometimes seemed to have the entire net blocked just be standing there.]

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[Keep it in!]

THE CUB REPORTER’S BEST PHOTO SEQUENCE EVER?:

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[I believe it began here with a face-off in our own end.  Kaila is taking the draw, Mel is on her left.]

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[I don’t recall how it happened, but with the Icebreakers’ constant forechecking we would occasionally have a break out.  Here Mel and Kaila are in all alone in the St. Cloud zone.  We could see this happening from the beginning so I put the ole Canon on rapid fire . . .]

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[Who better than Mel to have swoop in on the goalie?  And with Kaila there for a rebound!]

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[Now to get the goalie out of position! . . .]

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[It looks like she’s going wide to her forehand . . .]

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[There’s the shot!  The goalie is beaten upper right . . .]

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[But then we heard the “clang!”  She gotta a pipe . . .]

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[Still, we thought Mel had scored and we were all cheering.  But then . . . what’s that disc looking thing in the left crease?]

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[Yup, that bad boy is escaping out front and everyone’s looking behind the net!  Arrghhh!]

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[The Card battle to get it out of their own zone.  Their best options may have been to try to skate it out – or go for the breakaway pass.  Both are risky.  We did have a few breakouts – we hit two pipes on the game.]

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[We’re in their zone – but the puck has other ideas . . .]

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[We’re in position if someone can get the puck to the front of the net.]

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[Save!]

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[Good try!]

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[Micaela’s still battling.]

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[As Taylor comes in, once again the puck just misses to the right.]

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[Mari comes in on her backhand while Hanah tries to screen the goalie.]

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[Mari]

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Ohhhhhh!  Mari’s so close!]

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[Drat!!]

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[Taylor comes in on her backhand . . .]

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[Then circles wide.]

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[We’ve got someone in front.]

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[It’s a rugby scrum.]

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[There was a Cardinal in there somewhere?]

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[We’re covering the perimeter.]

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[McKenna’s in on goal!  You’d think once in a while all this activity would create a goal?]

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[Arrrgghhhhh!]

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[And the puck gets away again.]

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[Now where’d it go? ]

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[Mel and Nicole kinda wrap up the game coverage.]

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[Oh, except for the guys in the booth.]

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[Goodness, Bob, aren’t you glad you’re not running for office this year so you can continue to cover the Cards?]

Curmudgeon quote of the post:  Husbands never become good; they merely become proficient.  ~ H. L. Mencken

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