by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Cassey Petrich has roots in Duluth, and on Saturday she gave her relatives up there something to read about in the Duluth News-Tribune.
The Elk River-Zimmerman senior defenseman punched in the first two goals as the Elks beat the Duluth Northern Stars 5-1 in the semifinals of the Section 7AA girls hockey tournament at Elk River Arena.
“I’ve only got three goals. This is the only team I’ve scored against,” grinned Petrich, whose other goal came in a 5-0 win at Duluth on Jan. 20.
Asked what she’s got against Duluth, she said, “Oh, my family’s from up there, so nothing at all. My grandparents live there.”
Petrich scored in the first and second periods, both unassisted, each time swooping toward the net and letting fly from abut 20 feet.
“Just luck,” she laughed. “I didn’t think I’d get goals at all. I was just shooting toward the net.”
Said coach Joe Heasley: “Cassey picked a good time to become a goal-scorer.”
Elk freshman Jordan McLaughlin notched the third goal, and senior Jonna Curtis drilled the final two, all in the third period.
Curtis, Kaylee Forster and Petrich had assists on those goals.
The No. 7 ranked Elks, 20-3-3 overall and 8-0-2 in their last 10 games, will try repeat as section champions Thursday evening against Grand Rapids-Greenway (16-7-3) at Grand Rapids. The Elk beat the Lightning 3-2 in Grand Rapids on Jan. 13.
It was the final home game for a stellar group of eight Elk seniors — Petrich, Abby Kratzke, Josie Brown, Jordyn Denne, Kayla Mills, Madison Ellis, goalie Tori Herrmann and all-time scoring leader Jonna Curtis.
Curtis, with those two goals, has 36 this year and 150 in her career.
The Elks outshot the Northern Stars (9-16-2) by a 50-21 margin. Elk goalie Tori Herrmann stopped 19 shots.
The elation of the semifinal victory was dampened with 2:59 left when Forster, Elk sophomore defenseman, was flagged for boarding against Duluth co-captain Nikki Logergren, who didn’t get up for a couple minutes. Forster drew a game misconduct, meaning she’ll miss the section finals. In the final minutes, Forster was in tears while watching from outside the glass, and Logergren was slumped on the bench with an ice pack on her right shoulder.
Along with the safety issues, the penalty leaves the Elks shorthanded defensively.
“We’ll have to figure it out,” said Heasley. “I don’t know what we’ll do. We are inexperienced with our depth (at defenseman). Kaylee feels pretty bad about it.”
The Elks will be trying for their sixth state trip and fourth in five years.