The Waupaca Area girls’ hockey team already has 13 wins under its belt this season.
A 3-2 Great Northern Conference win over Northern Edge might be the biggest one of all.
“I’ve talked about big wins for our program,” coach Tim Guyer said Jan. 12 after watching his 13-1 team knock off Northern Edge for the second time this season and improve to 5-0 in conference play. “This is probably the biggest one.”
Waupaca handed Northern Edge, a co-op team of players from Antigo and Rhinelander high schools, 6-5 in overtime Dec. 1 in the GNC opener.
The rematch was just as thrilling.
Freshman Avery Simonson gave Waupaca Area a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals in the first period. The first, an unassisted short-handed goal, came with 11:24 left in the period, while the second came on the power play less than three minutes later off of an assist from Mandy Tomlinson and Brianne Huettner.
“I’ve talked about Avery probably being the fastest skater in the state,” Guyer said. “She really played well.”
Gabrielle Millot put Northern Edge on the board with 6:15 remaining in the second period.
“We got a little tired in the second, but they did, too,” Guyer said. “We were able to withstand that.”
Northern Elite tied the game with 12:58 to go in the game, as Kourtney Carrico came up with an unassisted goal.
It didn’t take long for Waupaca Area to regain the lead for good, however, as Tomlinson scored with 11:54 remaining off of an assist from Markie Ash.
“Mandy’s goal was big to answer their goal,” Guyer said.
Northern Edge was able to keep the pressure on Waupaca Area’s defense and goalie Cassie Rasmussen.
“Boy, did they play well,” Guyer said. “Our goaltender, she’s made some big saves for us. She’s just come so far. It’s her work ethic. She works really hard in practice. She’s hurting a little bit, but she gutted it out. We needed her to make it through.”
The team also needed Huettner, who dug out several pucks to go along with her assist on Simonson’s second goal.
“She is a tremendous player and a tremendous leader for us,” Guyer said. “I can’t say enough about her. She spent all summer leaving her house at 5:15 in the morning to come in and work out. She’s a tremendous asset to our team.”
Waupaca Area now has a two-game lead in the GNC standings on Northern Edge and Northland Pines, another team Waupaca Area has already knocked off.
“We’re taking them one at a time,” Guyer said. “We emphasized this game as being important, but we know there’s a lot of season left. We just have to knock them off one at a time. That’s our goal.
“The girls realize that and will continue to work hard because that’s all they’ve done all year,” he added. “It’s a good feeling. We’re just going to keep working hard and having fun.”