SUPERIOR, Wis. -- The Yellowjackets came out slow to kick off the 2012 O'Brien Cup play-offs, failing to produce any shots within the first eight minutes of the first period. It wasn't much different on St. Norbert's end as they only came up with a single shot during the opening five minutes. After a cross-checking penalty on Alison Shrift at 6:51 of the first period, and an interference penalty on Sheryl Kaskiw expired, the Green Knights were outshooting the Yellowjackets 6-0.
A boarding call on St. Norbert's Kelley Ritchie gave the Yellowjackets more offensive rhythm when Dani Schultz shot a one timer that was saved by St. Norbert goaltender Katie Aluia to give the Yellowjackets their first shot of the game. Shultz built on that shot when she was between traffic, putting home a garbage goal at 13:03 of the first period to give the Yellowjackets a 1-0 lead. The power play tally was Schultz' 22nd on the season.
1:09 later, Kiara DeKezelwas all alone on the left side when she let a lazer go from the top of the circle that fooled Aluia over the shoulder to make the score 2-0 Yellowjackets. The Yellowjackets continued to struggle to put shots on net, but whenever they did, it seemed to go in the net. Later on in the period, Ashlee Olson retrieved the puck at the blue line thanks to a St. Norbert turnover and skated up the right side and beat Aluia high on the stick side to make the score 3-0 Yellowjackets. St. Norbert yanked goaltender Aluia in favor of Kaley Gibson following the goal. St. Norbert managed to outshoot the Yellowjackets 8-4 in the first period.
The opening stage of the second period was much like the first period for the fact that there was not much action. Not many shots, calls, and no scoring occurred within the first ten minutes. That was all short lived when a tripping call on Ashley Birdsall (Duluth, Minn./Duluth East) gave the Green Knights fuel as they put home a goal seconds into their power play to narrow the Yellowjacket lead to 3-1. After a power play opportunity that went by the boards for the Yellowjackets at 12:23, Schultz continued her scoring tear in the game, putting a shot home at 14:26 of the second period to make the score 4-1 Yellowjackets.
St. Norbert answered that goal: 22 later when Tara Frey found the back of the net to make the score 4-2. The Yellowjackets and Green Knights went on to trade tripping penalties at 15:06, and 16:22 of the second period that failed to produce any scoring for both teams. That didn't let the Yellowjackets down one bit at 17:02 of the second period when Kaiti Graham (Middleville, Mich./Thornapple Kellogg) let a shot go between the circles up top and beat Gibson high to make the score 5-2 Yellowjackets where things would stay for the remainder of the second period. The Yellowjackets outshot the Green Knights 11-9 in the second period.
The third period was unlike the first two periods as there was not much going on for both teams. The headline of the third period was that each team was grinding and clawing to make sure that the opposing team didn't score. As Greg Schiano always says, "Keep choppin that wood." And that's exactly what each team did. Only two penalties were called in the third period as each team went 0-1 on the power play. Not much went on in the shots on goal department in the third period with each team producing six a piece.
Shanley Peters stopped 21 shots for the Yellowjackets while St. Norbert goaltenders Katie Aluia and Kaley Gibson combined for 16 saves.
The Yellowjackets (16-7-3, 13-5-2 NCHA) will go for the quarter final sweep against St. Norbert College tomorrow (Feb.25) at 2:00 p.m. The game can be viewed live via webcast at www.ifan.tv