Yellowjackets advance to O'Brien Cup semis, sweep Green Knights
SUPERIOR, Wis — In game one of the series with St. Norbert College, it was the Green Knights who put the pressure on the Yellowjackets early in the game. This time it was the Yellowjackets who returned the favor as they started off the game out-shooting the Green Knights 6-0 at one point. The Green Knights didn't record their first shot until about eight minutes into the period. An obstruction-interference penalty on St. Norbert College at 9:28 of the first period put the Yellowjackets on the power play for the first time in the game. The Yellowjackets came up successful on that power play when Kaiti Graham (Middleville, Mich./Thornapple Kellogg) let a wrist shot go from the top of the right circle that caught St. Norbert goaltender Kaley Gibson off guard to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. The Yellowjackets wasted no time at all when Ashlee Olson (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) dished the puck up to Kiara DeKezel (Deloraine, Manitoba/Deloraine) at the red line where she split the St. Norbert defense and went in for a breakaway where she let a shot go that beat Gibson high on the stick side to widen the Yellowjacket lead to 2-0. The Yellowjackets went on to take three penalties in the first period while St. Norbert took three as well. The Yellowjackets outshot the Green Knights 12-10 in the first period.
Penalties were the main headline of the second period. St. Norbert didn't waste any time going into the box as they took a boarding penalty: 6 into the second period. That came back to bite them in the face when Bailey Lane (Armada, Mich./Armada) put home a wrist shot to give the Yellowjackets a 3-0 lead. That was the second power play goal for the Yellowjackets in the game. However, a high-sticking penalty on the Yellowjackets' Dani Schultz (Morris, Minn./Morris Area) at 2:10 of the second period, and a cross-checking call on Graham at 3:47 put the Yellowjackets in a hole as they were put in a five-on-three penalty kill. The Yellowjackets managed to kill Schultz' penalty, but came up unsuccessful killing Graham's penalty as St. Norberts' Zoe Kurth put a shot past Shanley Peters (Gnadenthal, Manitoba/Garden Valley Collegiate) to narrow the Yellowjacket lead to 3-1. St. Norbert built on that momentum 1:06 later when Laurel Hill knocked a shot through Peters to make the score 3-2 Yellowjackets. The Yellowjackets and Green Knights were even in the shots on goal department with six a piece.
The third period was all Yellowjackets and they didn't waste any time showing that it was going to be all them. Ashlee Olson (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) continued her superb play as of late 1:06 in the third period when she knocked in a shot to make the score 4-2 Yellowjackets. The Green Knights answered approximately three minutes later thanks to a tripping call on Graham to tighten the Yellowjacket lead to 4-3. The Green Knights gave the Yellowjackets a run for their money for the latter part of the third period, but it was Sheryl Kaskiw (Souris, Manitoba) who put the game to rest with a power-play empty net goal at 18:25 of the third period to make the score 5-3.
Peters made 20 saves for the Yellowjackets while Gibson came up with 24 saves for the Green Knights.
The Yellowjackets (17-7-3, 13-5-2 NCHA) will travel to River Falls next Friday (Mar.2) and will play in the O'Brien Cup semi-final, with the winner of that game moving to Saturday's championship game. Time and opponent are yet to be announced.