Lions looking to finish strong
HANCOCK — Last Saturday afternoon, the unexpected happened when freshman Kait Ryynanen’s shot while falling shortly after an offensive zone faceoff found its way into the back of the net in overtime as the Finlandia Lions women’s hockey team won its first game since the current senior class were freshmen.
The 2-1 victory was an important bounce back for the Lions after a 7-0 drubbing on Friday night.
For the seniors, it was also important validation of all their efforts for the past four seasons.
“It means a lot,” said Sara Martin. “For our junior and our sophomore class, and even our freshman class, it was huge to finally feel what it’s like to get a win at Finlandia. It was huge for everyone’s morale if nothing else.”
Alena Fiala echoed her classmate’s feelings.
“There are so many things that it means to us,” said Fiala. “Being on a losing team is hard.
“What I liked…that game, every single person put their heart into it.”
It had been a long road for the seniors with a coaching change, an 11-girl class when they entered school, and a four-girl class as they finish their careers. However, this quartet would not have it any other way.
“We wanted to build the program,” said Fiala. “I think just doing that, and winning, that we go out on a good note, especially with what we wanted to do with the program. We wanted to make a difference. It means the world to us.”
With all the drama they have been through, they could be excused for the dramatic way they celebrated Saturday’s events. Theresa Wolf and her defensive partner, Sarah Hockings, were very nervous about the overtime.
“Sarah Hockings and I were actually holding hands,” said Theresa Wolf. “We were [defensive] partners, and we did not want to go out there again together.”
The men’s team was on hand to celebrate with them, and that made things even more exciting for the ladies.
The seniors feel that even the one win will help drive their teammates to be better
“I think it sets a good tone even going into next season,” said Fiala. “Coming out of this season with a win, they will want to come out even harder next year, hold the new incoming freshmen to the same standard we held this year’s freshmen to.”
This weekend, the Lions have an opportunity to finish on a three-game winning streak. It will not be easy, though, with St. Scholastica in town. The Lions have already played the Saints this season, losing 3-1 to the then-No. 10 Saints on the road in the third game of the season.
The Saints are 11-10-2 on the season overall, and are currently third in the NCHA thanks to a conference record of 8-6-2, good for 18 points. They are 1-4 in their last five games.
Senior Sierra Hanowski leads the in assists (14) and points (21). Junior Emily Stegora leads the team in goals (11).
Senior Lindsey Hartfiel and freshman Lexi Thomeczek have split time between the pipes. Hartfiel is 4-8-2 with a goals against average of 3.38. Thomeczek is 7-2-0 with a goals against average 1.73.
Game time for Friday night’s game is 7:15 p.m. at the Houghton County Arena. Saturday’s game will start at 2 p.m.