Finlandia women look to build off best start since ‘09

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — It would be easy to look at a weekend where the Finlandia Lions women’s hockey team went 0-1-1 in a series with the St. Norbert Green Knights and feel as though the Lions are continuing to struggle through another tough weekend. But the reality is the Lions picked up another key NCHA point, giving them three through five games.

The Lions have not had that many points in a season, let alone the start of a season, since 2009 when Heather Reinke was at the helm. The Lions won five games that season.

The start has given the Lions some confidence while also impressing head coach Matt Marchel.

“Every ounce of confidence we can scrape up helps us, period,” said Marchel. “Confidence breeds success and success breeds confidence.”

On Friday, the Lions spotted the Green Knights a 3-0 lead before bouncing back with a pair of goals from senior center Sierra Meiners and sophomore forward Bella Abear sandwiched around a fourth Green Knights tally.

While the Lions were unable to score a third goal before the final buzzer, Marchel was pleased with the effort his team gave in fighting back.

“Trying to come back from being down 3-0 is tough, but we made a nice little comeback” said Marchel. “We still believed and we still had life.”

Friday also saw the emergence of Abear as a consistent threat for the Lions. The youngster fired a team-high five shots on goal along with scoring a goal.

“She’s right there,” said Marchel. “No doubt, for the next three years, she is going to be a force for us. She can move up and down that ice.”

On Saturday, Meiners evened the game at 1-1 less than a minute after the Green Knights took an early lead and then gave the Lions a 2-1 lead 4:45 into the second period shorthanded.

The lead was short-lived, but it was not the only one as freshman winger Hannah Tormanen scored a shorthanded goal of her own at 13:07.

Atlantic Mine native Lexi Pyykonen scored the next two goals in the contest to regain the lead for the Green Knights, 4-3, but Tormanen evened the contest again with just 15 minutes left in regulation.

Tormanen’s pair of goals helped give the power forward some confidence.

“Hannah Tormanen was just a force,” said Marchel. “She’s such an athlete. She dominates when she is out there.”

ROAD TRIP

This weekend, the Lions head out on the road for a pair of contests with the Lake Forest Foresters. The Foresters are 3-3-0 on the season after drubbing Aurora on the road last weekend, 13-2 and 10-0 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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