Tigers defeat Chippewa Falls, but lose to Hayward in close game

The annual food fight between the Tiger boys and girls hockey teams was Dec. 9 as both teams faced opponents that day. Admission to the games was free for all fans who brought in a non-perishable food item to donate to the local food pantry. Girls and boys hockey players also worked to gather food to donate. In the end, the two teams combined gathered a total of 5,671.4 pounds of food. The girls won the Food Fight challenge by an extra 259.6 pounds of food over the boys, but in the end the real winner was the food pantry. Hockey fans also made monetary donations totaling $213.75 for the food pantry.

The Tigers followed up a grueling schedule earlier last week with a highly-contested match against Chippewa Falls-Menomonie last Thursday.

After several chances by both teams, the first period ended in a scoreless tie.

The Tigers capitalized on their first power play opportunity of the game in the second period with a goal by Reghan Yourell off a rebound from a shot by defenseman Kaytlin Johnson.

The Tigers were able to maintain offensive zone pressure during the power play to that point and a net front presence by Yourell resulted in a quality scoring chance off the shot that Johnson was able to send to the net through traffic.

Later in that period the Tigers killed off a two-player advantage for Chipppewa Falls with solid defensive zone play and great goal tending by Josie Mathison, and was able to end the period holding onto a 1-goal lead.

The insurance goal came off a short-handed rush up the ice by Johnson who after picking up a loose neutral zone puck was able to gain the offensive blue line, work into the middle of the ice and beat the Chippewa Falls goalie with a high wrist shot.

This was the team’s second short-handed goal of the year, and its penalty kill is now more than 90 percent for the season.

Goalie Josie Mathison stopped 26 shots in net to pick up her second shutout of the season.

“We were much improved in the face-off circle in this game which definitely helps us improve on our puck management. Puck movement for the team as a whole was strong in this game. We are getting closer to putting together a complete game in terms of our talent and focus,” head coach Oak Moser said.

The Tigers next match was an early Saturday morning start of 10 a.m. on Food Fight Saturday.

Both the girls and boys Tiger hockey programs competed in a food drive for the local food pantry and were assisted by the visiting teams (Hayward and Amery) and the local community and fans to collect over 5,600 pounds of non-perishable food items to help others.

Players and parents collected and delivered the food directly following the games. The Tiger girls team prevailed over the boys in the food drive by a mere 250 pounds.

The Tiger versus Hayward game began evenly and was a closely-fought battle for the entire 51 minutes.

“Quality scoring chances were few and pretty even as both goalies battled to keep their opponents scoreless through two periods of play,” Moser said.

Play was closely contested in all zones of the ice. Hayward was able to break the deadlock midway in the third period on a play where the Hayward attacker, with a burst of speed, found their way wide and deep into the Tiger’s zone, drove hard to the net and was able to find a path through for the puck as they were contested driving across the goal crease.

Despite some opportunities late in the period, including with a sixth attacker after pulling the goalie with a minute and a half to go, using the time out to get organized and spending most of that remaining time in the Hayward zone, the Tigers were unable to break through with a tying goal.

“This game was between two evenly-matched teams both looking to find some success to build on after suffering a few defeats from the strongest teams in the state,” Moser said. “It was the most complete game we have played from start to finish. We avoided the sometimes soft start we have had in recent games and were able to maintain a stronger compete level.”

Goalie Josie Mathison continued her strong play in net stopping 27 of 28 shots.

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Jackson County Chronicle editor

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