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Girls hockey: Mecca of Missota is in sight

When Jessica Erchul was an eighth-grader helping the Farmington girls hockey team reach the state tournament she was given the nickname "The Erch Factor."

Now a sophomore, Erchul is once again a key factor in the Tigers' run toward a Missota Conference championship and another trip to Xcel Energy Center. She picked up her third and fourth shutouts of the season last week and stopped 52 of 54 shots that came her way as the Tigers stayed in control of the conference race with three straight victories. Another win tonight against 9-14 Hutchinson at Schmitz-Maki Arena would clinch the program's first Missota title since it won the third of back-to-back-to-back championships in 2003.

"Erchul has been very consistent between the pipes," head coach Jon Holmes said. "She gets better every game both physically and mentally. It is nice to see her being rewarded with solid numbers since it is directly related to her hard work in practice."

Erchul stopped 21 shots in Monday's game at New Prague, but it took Krystal Baumann's 35th goal of the season with 44 seconds left in the game to give the Tigers a huge 3-2 victory.

Baumann's first goal of the game on a pass from Angie Schull gave Farmington the lead late in the first period. Betsy Anderson added a power-play goal 3:28 into the second to make it 2-0, but the Trojans cut it back to 2-1 by the end of the second and tied the game with just under three minutes remaining.

Anderson also scored a couple of big goals in Friday's 3-0 home win over Holy Angels. She was part of a second line that Holmes had been hoping would step up as opponents focused on stopping the first line duo of Baumann and Hannah Alexander.

"We needed our second and third lines to step up to help us in a successful post-season run and over the past few games they have done just that," he said. "Many teams are putting together specific game plans to try to stop and handle Baumann and Alexander which usually gets them to step up their game even more. It has been allowing for some great opportunities for the rest of the team to step up and seize the chances."

Anderson scored the game's first goal at 2:47 of the first on a pass from Molly Friedlund. It stayed 1-0 until the middle of the third period when Rachel Peroutky found the net on the power play. Less than a minute later Anderson capped the scoring with a helper from Emily Severson.

Erchul stopped all 19 Holy Angels shots. She was tested even less on Tuesday when she made just 12 saves behind a strong defensive effort in a 2-0 win over Northfield at Schmitz-Maki Arena.

The Tigers took the lead for good just 1:04 in when Severson scored on a pass from Haley Doll. Five minutes later, Grace Gavin made it 2-0 with an unassisted goal.