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Lumberjacks best Rebels again


December 27, 2019

Dan Saletel

Moose Lake Area goalie Jo Wekseth blocks a shot from CEC's Kiana Bender during Friday's game in Moose Lake.

Cloquet-Esko-Carlton and Moose Lake Area had a rematch of girls hockey on Friday night in Moose Lake. A little over a month ago, the Lumberjacks came away with a 2-1 victory in Cloquet. Friday night the 'Jacks dominated the shot clock and cruised to a 5-1 victory over the young Rebels squad.

CEC's first line scored three of their five goals and picked up a total of seven points. Kiana Bender had two goals, Taylor Nelson added a goal and two assists for three points and Dea DeLeon finished with a pair of assists.

"That first line for them is dominant," said Rebels coach Chris Gamst. "They really control the puck and spend a lot of time in the offensive zone. All three of our lines struggled against them. But again it's a learning experience for our girls to see areas we need to improve in and we do always enjoy playing against future Division 1 players."

On the other side of the rink CEC coach Courtney Olin gets to watch that talented first line night in and night out as coach of the 'Jacks.

"We are extremely fortunate to have three great athletes like them," Olin said. "All three are going on to play sports in college. All three are good in the classroom and are successful in everything they do, but more than that they are also great leaders and role models for the other girls."

When Nelson graduates she will be leaving to play hockey at Division I Bemidji State, while both Bender and DeLeon will attend UMD and be on softball scholarships. UMD is a Division II school in softball.

Bender opened the scoring just 2:01 into the game with both DeLeon and Nelson assisting making it 1-0 in favor of CEC. Despite giving up an early goal, the young Rebels continued to battle through against the highly ranked 'Jacks.

"It's always tough giving up early goals as an underdog because it gives the favorite a chance to relax a bit," explained Coach Gamst. "You really just try to stay close in games against more talented teams. We didn't get too down or frustrated though and our girls kept playing hard."

The Lumberjacks added another goal before the first period ended when Dana Jones added an unassisted goal at 8:40 of the first period to make it 2-0.

"Dana is just so strong that she is hard to defend," Olin said. "She started hockey much later than the other kids, so it is a testament to how gifted she is athletically because of where she is right now. There is a lot more potential for her in hockey down the road."

At 4:58 of the second period, Jones added her second goal of the game with an assist to Lauren Cawcutt. Eleven minutes later, Bender picked up her second goal of the game with Nelson notching the assist as CEC went up 4-0 on the Rebels.

Much like the first game, the Lumberjacks peppered Rebel goalie Jo Wekseth who was again remarkable between the pipes. For the game, Wekseth finished with 46 saves on 51 shots.

"Jo is playing excellent for us this season. She is a bigger goalie and seems to have been seeing the puck and controlling rebounds," Gamst said. "Her biggest asset is challenging shooters by staying out above the crease. She will need to be on for us to advance in the playoffs."

The Lumberjacks have been rotating their goaltenders. On Friday night it was Araya Kiminski's turn, and the freshman handled her duties well be making 12 saves on 13 shots.

"We've alternated between our senior Lauren Maslowski and Kiminski and both of them are fighting for that No. 1 spot," explained Olin. "Both of them are hardworking and very coachable. Both have risen to the occasion for us this year and I am anxious to see how that plays out."

While the Lumberjacks have a nice mixture of veteran and younger players, the Rebels are mainly a youthful group with many of their players in their first year of varsity action.

Dan Saletel / Pine Knot Sports

The Lumberjacks celebrate a goal by Taylor Nelson during Friday's 5-1 victory over Moose Lake Area.

"We are playing only four on defense this year with three eighth-graders and a seventh-grader as well as two seventh-graders and an eighth-grader as forwards on the top three lines," Gamst said. "They are a very talented bunch of girls. They won the U-12 'B' state championship last season. They are getting used to the faster pace, the physical play and not always being the best player on the ice. It's always great to play highly ranked teams. It shows our girls where they need to be in future years and in February when playoffs start.'

The Rebels kept CEC off the board for much of the third period and were able to finally get on the board when Savannah Gamst punched home a goal at the 13:14 mark. CEC answered quickly when Nelson scored on a power play with Emmie Ellena assisting just 20-seconds after the Rebels had scored making the final score 5-1.

"That is going to be a very good hockey team," said Olin of the Rebels. "They have a lot of young talent and they are just getting used to the varsity level. They will be fun to watch. Come playoff time they will surprise teams at how good they are."

Operation Community Connect Resource Fair, Wed., Jan. 22, 2020, 10am - 2 pm, Journey Church, Cloquet, MN

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