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Girls hockey: Scoring boost gets Tigers back to .500

It was a long road back to .500 for the Farmington girls hockey team.

After a closely-contested 3-2 home loss to New Prague on Dec. 20, the Tigers sat at 2-8-1 and sat pretty much on pace to match the previous season’s total of four wins. The team started to come around with a pair of wins at the Louis Schmitz Holiday Classic, and since the start of the new year has won six out of seven games. Back-to-back home wins over Simley and Shakopee - by scores of 4-2 and 3-2 – at the end of last week got the Tigers back to 10-10-1 heading into Tuesday’s game against Owatonna.

“I honestly couldn't be prouder of a group of players,” Farmington coach Jon Holmes said. “I honestly really did feel we could get to .500. From the get-go we knew we would have some road bumps early in the year on the offensive side of the puck. We only returned two players with special teams experience from the forwards. Our entire defense was returning, but offensively we surely had a hill to climb.”

The Tigers were shut out three times and held to two goals or fewer 10 times during the 2013 portion of their schedule. Since the calendar flipped, they have scored 25 goals in seven games for an average of 2.8 goals per game.

“Each week you could visibly see the offensive side getting better for our forwards and defense. We made steps every week in supporting the puck carrier, getting the puck wide when entering the zone and funneling to the net, then eventually we began to get more shots on net, penultimately we turned those shots on net into real opportunities, and lastly we started finding the twine,” Holmes said. “Each one of those steps took lots of prep and work in practice and this group never lost sight of the big picture despite going 2-8-1 in the first part of the season.”

The Tigers put up three goals Friday night against a Shakopee team they played to a 0-0 tie with back in mid-December. Madeline Oines and Ellie Moser knocked in the first two and Breanna Raske broke a 2-2 tie with the game-winner at the 15:52 mark of the third period.

“Breanna's goal with a minute left was an absolute beaut!” Holmes said. “It was shelved over the goalie’s glove side and sits with some of the best game-winning goals I have seen in many years of hockey.”

Goaltender Molly Singewald turned back 24 Shakopee shots to pick up the win.

Megan Stivers, Michaela Tonsager, Raske and Danielle Wright provided assists on the three Farmington goals.

A night earlier, the Tigers used a four-goal second period to blow by Simley 4-2 at Schmitz-Maki Arena.

After a scoreless opening 17 minutes, Oines started the scoring with a power-play goal on a pass from Rachael Welzin. Just over two minutes later, Moser scored on a feed from Shelby Klotz to make it 2-0.

Stivers knocked in another power-play on an assist from Welzin at 14:20 and Moser closed out the period with a goal at 16:59 (assists to Raske and Scootie Donnelly).

Singewald made the lead stand, holding Simley to one goal on nine shots in the third period and finishing with 14 saves.

The Tigers are back on the road tonight at Red Wing. They close out the regular season with road games at New Prague and Holy Angels.