Zoe Kurth’s head coaching debut with the Icebergs’ girls high school hockey co-op was an entertaining affair against the long-time Badger Conference rival Madison Metro Lynx. But the Icebergs fell behind by three goals halfway through the first period and couldn’t catch up, as the Lynx took a 10-3 win Nov. 23 at Stoughton’s Mandt Arena.
It was a rough night for Icebergs’ goaltenders Aven Gruner and Abby Seybold, who combined to save 60-of-70 shots by the Lynx. Yet, Kurth was encouraged by the team reducing a three-goal deficit to one before allowing six unanswered scores in the second and third periods.
“We’re trying to change our mentality. We stick together and every time we step on the ice, and we go as hard as we can,” Kurth said.
Sydney Raaths had four goals and four assists for the Lynx, Abigale Ahlborn came up with three goals and two assists, and Lauren Johnson and Kaya Byce both had a goal and two assists for the Lynx.
The good news was the play of McFarland center Aeryn Olson, Oregon forward Izzy Newton and Stoughton forward Sydney Schipper who all had a part in the Icebergs’ trio of goals.
“With that line, I know they are going to produce,” said Kurth, who said the trio should be able to get a lot of shots, breakouts and scoring opportunities throughout the season.
Olson said her experience of playing with Newton and Schipper for two previous seasons have made them into a solid, scoring unit.
“We worked together a lot and developed a good relationship with each other,” Olson said. “We know where we are on the ice and we know where we are going to be.”
Goals by Raaths and Johnson put the Lynx on top 2-0 with just 83 seconds gone in the game. Ahlborn added to the lead at the 8:30 mark of the first period, but the Icebergs fought back as Newton blasted a shot past the pads of Lynx goalie Camryn McKersie at 11:27.
Nineteen seconds later, Byce put the Lynx in front 4-1, but Olson kept the Icebergs close with her only goal off assists from Newton and Schipper at 13:13 to make the score 4-2 after the first period.
The Icebergs’ offense clicked again 43 seconds into the second period as Newton tallied her second goal off Olson and Schipper assists.
But the team wouldn’t score for the rest of the evening as Raaths scored twice and Ahlborn connected on another to put the Lynx on top 7-3 after the second period.
Ahlborn and Raaths scored 30 seconds apart in the third period, and Ava Jambor added her only goal with 9:36 to play in the game.
The Icebergs fired 30 shots at McKersie, who saved 27.
Seybold, who worked the second and third periods in net for the Icebergs, stopped 44-of-50 shots. Freshman goalie Aven Gruner started the game and made 16 saves on 20 shots.
The Lynx used its depth to its advantage, and Kurth said her team had a hard time keeping up.
“We were psyched for the first two periods, but I told them we have to play three periods of hockey, not two,” Kurth said. “I think we got tired in the third period.”
Kurth said future practices will focus on strategies for entering the offensive zone to increase scoring opportunities. Olson was encouraged by what she saw from her teammates on the ice.
“I think we did very well for our first game,” Olson said. “There are some things we need to work on. We have really tried to stay positive this year and keep our heads up, and make sure we don’t get down as we did in past years.”
The Icebergs play in a tournament Nov. 29-30 at Fond du Lac’s Blue Line Family Ice Center. The team will take on Northland Pines, Fox Cities Stars and the Fond du Lac Warbirds.