The Irish girls' hockey team ended a six-game losing streak Thursday night with a 6-2 win over conference-foe Prior Lake. Rosemount started the season 2-0 with a non-conference win at Hastings and then beat Farmington for the first time since the 2012-2013 regular season before the Tigers joined the South Suburban Conference. However, after that the Irish dropped six in a row to Apple Valley, Eagan, Simley, Lakeville North, Eastview and Burnsville. Rosemount improves to 3-6 overall with the victory over the Lakers and are 2-5 in the SSC.
Rosemount jumped on Prior Lake right from the start with three first-period goals. Freshman Ava Webster struck first midway through the period, scoring from up top on a power-play goal assisted by fellow freshman Whitney Tuttle and junior Ashley Tuttle. A minute later, eighth-grader Anna Shandorf scored with help from Whitney Tuttle. With less than 30 seconds left in the period, Shandorf repaid the favor as Whitney Tuttle scored and the Irish led 3-0 at the end of the first period.
Whitney Tuttle scored again at the start of the second period (assisted by Ashley Tuttle) to make it 4-0 Rosemount, which was still the score at the end of the period. The Irish dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Lakers 12-5 in the first and 13-7 in the second. However, Prior Lake ramped it up in the third period, putting Rosemount on the defensive and scoring two goals in the first six minutes to cut the Irish lead to 4-2. This served as a wake-up call for Rosemount, who answered with two more goals of their own from sophomore Kiersten Browning (assisted by Nygaard) on a breakaway and senior Skylar Smith with help from sophomore Kaleigh Swoope. Those two goals sealed the 6-2 for the Irish.
Head coach Andrew Conboy said it was the little things that helped Rosemount break their losing streak.
"Honestly not a whole lot, we just did all of our little things the right way that we were doing the first two games like blocking shots, getting pucks out of the zone, getting pucks deep and just playing our game," he said about what changed between the six losses and the win against Prior Lake.
Last year Rosemount was a very young team and are still fairly young despite having a year of experience under their belt. This year they have just four seniors and one junior on the roster.
"From the start of last year, a huge step, from the start of this year we're getting just baby steps better and better each day which is good to see," Conboy said about the improvement made by his team. "And like you said, it's a young group and with such a young group, we have to realize that and we as coaches are just excited about the potential we have here."
Conboy praised the play of senior goalie Brynn Kimel and sophomore goalie Bridget Heffron, as well as the strong starts of several other players.
"Our goaltending has been pretty consistent all year long so that's one thing that we can be pretty proud of," he said. "Whitney Tuttle is off to a great start, Ava Nygaard, Ashley Tuttle, younger girls Joey Edgar and Anna Shandorf both in their first year with us just having a good start to the year."
One thing Conboy did say was that the Irish needed to work on putting together whole games and limiting the mental breakdowns that plagued them during the losing streak.
Rosemount travels to Lakeville South on Saturday, faces the St. Paul Blades Tuesday, Dec. 18, and then hosts Shakopee Thursday, Dec. 20. During the holidays the Irish travel to Warroad for the Hockeytown Holiday Classic Dec. 26-28.