by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Normally it would be a very satisfying achievement to rally for a tie with the No. 3 ranked team in the state on their ice.
But Elk River-Zimmerman’s 1-1 deadlock with Anoka on Tuesday evening was not quite enough.
“I was a good tie, but we needed a win,” reflected coach Joe Heasley. “We could have won the conference if we had won out. Now we’ll need some help and still have to win out.”
Elk freshman Jordyn McLaughlin tied the score on a scrappy rebound shot with just 2:40 remaining, salvaging a tie in an intense duel as the No. 7 ranked Elks had a 33-25 edge in shots but Anoka’s swarming defense seldon permitted a clear shot at the goal.
“They are definitely the best team we have faced all year,” said Heasley. “But we played good defense too, and (goalie) Tori (Herrmann) had a good game.”
Anoka is 20-1-2 overall, with an earlier 3-1 win over the Elks, and 13-1-2 in the Northwest Suburban, with two games left. The Elks are 12-2-1 in conference with three games left, and 17-3-2 overall.
Anoka, which has not lost since Nov. 29, has three big scorers in Emilie Brigham (17-33-50), Katie Johnson (22-24-46) and Blair Parent (22-18-40), and is averaging 3.9 goals per game.
The Elks held the torrid Tornado trio to a first-period goal from Brigham although Anoka hit the pipes three other times.
The Tornado penalty-kill unit was impeccable. The Elks had a five-minute power play in the second period after a hit from behind and never managed a strong shot at goalie Katie McLain, with the Tornadoes driving the puck to the other end eight or nine times during that span. The Elks were 5-on-3 for 36 seconds and 5-on-4 for 59 more seconds in the second period and couldn’t convert. They had two more power plays in the third period, one of them overlapping the overtime, but Anoka always got in their way.
The Elks’ goal came on even-strength with a bit of luck. McLaughlin pounced on a rebound to the goalie’s right, hooked the stick around the puck and drove it back across the mouth of the goal, where it would glance off a defender’s skate and into the net. The goal was her 10th of the season, second on the team.
Jonna Curtis, the Elk senior who has 34 of the team’s 73 goals, was constantly double-teamed and never given a good angle for a shot except one late in the third period where she missed from about 10 feet.
Next for the Elks is Armstrong-Cooper at home Friday evening.