The Farmington Tigers girls' hockey team ended their 2018-2019 season as consolation runners-up on Saturday after falling to Maple Grove 5-1 in the consolation championship game. After losing 7-1 in the state quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 21, to the Andover Huskies, the Tigers bounced back on Friday when they beat the White Bear Lake Bears 2-1 to advance to the consolation championship against Maple Grove.
Gerold the Herb Brooks Award Winner
Another highlight was the announcement after the Class AA state championship game Saturday night that Farmington senior Jenna Gerold is the girls' recipient of the 2019 Herb Brooks Award from the Herb Brooks Foundation. The award "is given to the most qualified hockey player in the state tournament who strongly represents the values, characteristics, and traits that defined Herb Brooks". The award is given to one player at each the girls' and boys' state tournaments. Any player on the roster of a state-tournament qualifying team is eligible to receive the award. Gerold sat out most of the season recovering from a knee injury and returned with just a few games remaining in the regular season. However, she made an immediate impact upon stepping onto the ice again and led the Tigers in points and assists, as well as being second in goals during sections.
Loss to Andover
A rough first-period quickly snowballed for the Farmington Tigers girls' hockey team in their state quarterfinal game against the Andover Huskies. After a slow start for both teams as they felt each other out, Andover exploded for four goals over the last 12 minutes of the first period and the Tigers struggled to recover. The second period saw Farmington commit a couple costly penalties that resulted in two Huskies' power-play goals to start the period and the chances for a Tiger comeback dwindled. Trailing 7-0 heading into the third period, Farmington got on the board with a goal from Gerold and 7-1 was the final.
The Tigers struggled to generate offense the entire game as they managed just eight shots on goal. Defensively, the penalties did not help but the seven goals allowed were a season-high for them and sophomore goalie Ryleigh Furlong admitted that frustration set in early for Farmington.
"It was more of a frustration thing where their shots weren't anything that I hadn't seen before, because we've faced Blake and we've faced Maple Grove, so it wasn't out of the ordinary. But I think it was more frustration for the whole team, you could tell everyone was frustrated and everyone wanted to come in here," she said. "I think it was hard, especially for us younger girls, to have all these lights and all these people there, we're not used to that and I think it was just hard. I don't think it was the shots, I think it was just the surrounding and what was happening on the ice."
Head coach Jon Holmes said that his team just had one of those games where they just are not clicking.
"They're (Andover) a good team. They did exactly what we thought they were gonna do, we had seen them play and kind of knew the style of play that they had," he said. "Unfortunately, we didn't really have our best stuff today. It was one of those games where you try not to have that game in the playoffs or the state tournament and it happened to us. I think everything kind of went haywire, we're super young and it was hard I think for them to find their stride and then that third period they started focusing on smaller things and it worked out better."
Farmington was a young team this season who may have their best hockey ahead of them and senior Cassie Knutson said it's been great seeing the team grow over the course of the season.
"Just bringing those younger girls, coming back (to the state tournament) another time and being able to show them everything, being able to show them the ropes is an incredible feeling," she said. "I mean, it's crazy, it's not even the same team (from the beginning of the season until now) I can say that for sure. You look at our first game and you wouldn't even be able to recognize us and I know, even after the tournament just with how young we are, working in the summer and working next year they're going to keep getting better and I have no doubt that they'll do something great again next year."
Bounce back against the Bears
The Tigers girls' hockey team bounced back from Thursday's 7-1 loss to Andover with a 2-1 win over the White Bear Lake Bears to advance to the consolation finals. Farmington played much better and seemed much more at ease against the Bears as they jumped on their opponents from the beginning. While penalties have proven to be a problem in both games of the state tournament so far, against White Bear Lake the Tigers were able to overcome them and found their offensive form again as they outshot the Bears 49-18.
Farmington controlled play in the first period and were the first to score when freshman Samantha Moehle scored a power-play goal with 10 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first period, assisted by senior Jenna Gerold and fellow freshman Claire Enright. They outshot the Bears 19-7 in that first period.
White Bear Lake tied the game with 9:14 left in the second period and from there, the rest of the period was honestly a mess. The two teams committed a combined six penalties after the Bears' goal and eight total in the second period as neither squad was able to gain any momentum. On top of those eight penalties, there were three in the first period and five in the third for a total of 16-each team with eight-and seven power plays apiece. Farmington went 1-for-7 on power plays while White Bear Lake was 0-for-7.
Farmington broke the 1-1 tie just 41 seconds into the third period when Enright scored on two-on-one assisted by Moehle and sophomore Jayden Siefert. Up 2-1, the Tiger defense was stifling and sophomore goalie Ryleigh Furlong brushed off the goals given up against Andover and was once again solid between the pipes. Farmington forced three White Bear Lake penalties over the final seven minutes to help prevent any comeback and won 2-1. They gave up just two shots on goal in the third period.
The Tigers faced Maple Grove in the consolation championship game on Saturday in a rematch of a game from earlier in the season where Farmington lost 3-2.
Maple Grove scored first late in the opening period on a power play and they led 1-0 heading into the second. Farmington sophomore Carly Lancaster tied the game unassisted on a power play almost six minutes into the second period, but Maple Grove retook the lead with another power-play goal with less than 30 seconds to play heading into the third. They then extended their lead in the third period with three unanswered goals, including another on power-play goal, to win 5-1.
The power play and penalties proved to be critical once again for the Tigers. While they committed less penalties than Maple Grove, the Crimson went 3-for-5 on power plays while Farmington went 0-for-8. Maple Grove outshot Farmington 27-19.
The future looks bright for the Tigers as they lose just three seniors to graduation this spring, though those three are key contributors-Gerold, Knutson and Bailey Kelley. With the exception of Gerold who barely played in the regular season, Farmington will return all of their top five point getters and a vast majority of their goal scorers from the regular season and Furlong in goal with a whole season under her belt.