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Luverne holds on to 6-2 victory

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Trojan Lexi Standafer (6) and Cardinal Liz Solma (10) battle for control of the puck during Thursday night's Southwest Conference girls' hockey game at the Worthington Arena.

WORTHINGTON -- For the first two periods, the Luverne girls' hockey team played nearly perfect.

However, it was the Trojans who outplayed the Cardinals in the final period.

Leading 4-0 after the first two periods, Luverne scored a pair of goals late in the game to seal a 6-2 victory.

"I thought we played real well in the first two periods," Luverne coach Dave Siebenahler said. "I thought we really let down in the third period."

Luverne peppered the goal in the first period as most of the action was right in front of Worthington goalie Taylor Baumhoefner.

However, the Worthington defense bent, but didn't break in the early going.

With 21 shots on goal in the first period, the Cardinals (6-10) were only able to score one time.

Nearly 10 minutes into the game, the Trojan defense finally broke. Luverne's Amanda Niessink scored off a rebound as the Cardinals had a 1-0 advantage after the first period.

"It's tough when they are down on you all the time," Worthington coach Jill Cuperus said. "Not just on Taylor, but on all the girls. They had two girls almost always camped out in front of the net, so it was hard for our girls to work up the ice and look out for break-out passes, but yet stay in front of the net and keep the shots to a minimum.

"They were really peppering (Baumhoefner). She came in one time and said there was one shot and five rebounds off that shot."

For the first eight minutes of the second period, neither team could find the net.

But with 8:54 remaining, Mikki Fitzer was able to find some room on the right side and lift the puck past Baumhoefner's outstretched stick, giving Luverne a 2-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Kat Dahl joined in the scoring.

On a 1-on-1, Dahl was able to beat the Trojan defender and slide the puck into the net, increasing the lead to 3-0.

Less than 25 seconds later, Lauren Christensen scored on a deflection to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead -- an advantage they would take into the second intermission.

"We switched up the game a little in the first period," Siebenahler said. "I put my forwards back at defense trying to make a stronger defensive line, which helped us out in the first period. Then we went back to normal in the second period so we could score some more goals. I was real happy with the way the game was going."

Entering the third period with fire, Worthington had its first good look at a goal, and later found the net for its first score.

With 12:41 remaining, Worthington's Lexi Standafer took advantage of the power play and a slow line change to put the Trojans on the board.

"They didn't hustle," Siebenahler said of the change. "They should have made an easy line change. We were just slow coming off and slow going on and we let them get an easy one."

But Worthington wasn't done.

"I think the first period was a little slow, but they really picked it up in the second and in the third once they got the momentum of the goals," Cuperus said. "They started having fun and they were finally getting relaxed and made good passes and spread it out a little bit."

Four minutes later, the Trojans scored again.

Nicole Kremer scored with an assist from Liz Rohrbauck to cut the lead to 4-2.

"The puck was right there, I picked it up, shot it at the open net," Kremer said. "It hit both the sides and I thought it went back out."

For Worthington, the intermission between periods allowed the Trojans to regroup.

"I think we had a talk between periods and we got pumped up ourselves," Kremer said. "We went out there with our heads up high and we really wanted goals."

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, Niessink scored her second goal of the night to give the Cardinals a little breathing room.

"The third period, the girls just kind of let down there and thought they had it easily handled," Siebenahler said. "It doesn't take much to have a two-point turnaround and they get back in the game."

Fitzer scored one last goal with 21 seconds remaining in the game, giving Luverne a 6-2 victory.

Baumhoefner made 56 saves, while Kelsey Theesfeld stopped five shots.

Luverne will travel to Fairmont Tuesday, while the Trojans will play at St. Peter Saturday.

Luverne 1 3 2 -- 6

Worthington 0 0 2 -- 2