Rage capture top spot at tourney

Joey Payeur

Members of the Borderland Rage 14U girls’ hockey team will have a fantastic opening anecdote if they get the traditional “What I did on my summer vacation” assignment when they return to school in September.
Annalise Hayes (Fort Frances) and Lara Wood (Rainy River) scored first-period goals, and Ziggy Skead (Mine Centre) was outstanding between the pipes, as the Rage held on for a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Mavericks on Sunday in the final of the fourth-annual NHG Cup in Maple Grove, Mn.
“All the girls played pretty good,” Rage coach Les Kaun said about the regional squad.
Also representing Fort Frances on the Rage were Emily Kaun, Alex Gartzke, Hanna LeDrew, Mackenna Watson, Jillian Calder, and Hannah DeGagne.
Reece McQuaker (Emo) joined Wood and Skead as the other district players on the team.
The Rage had gone a combined 0-6-2 in its first two tournaments this year but both of those were played without Hayes, who had Muskie soccer commitments that kept her away.
But she was picked up this past weekend due to the Rage being short a few players for various reasons—and her return proved crucial to the team’s success as she led the way with 12 points in five games.
“We lost so many games 1-0 and 2-1 in those first two tournaments just because we couldn’t get the puck in the net,” noted Les Kaun.
“Then [Hayes] shows up and that really changed things.”
After Hayes and Wood had staked the Rage to a 2-0 lead, the Mavericks replied with one in the second.
A frantic third period saw the Rage get whistled for three-straight penalties, leading them to have to kill off an extended 5-on-3 short-handed situation.
“Ziggy made two huge stops during that penalty kill,” Kaun lauded.
It was a much different outcome from the round-robin matchup between the teams, which the Mavericks won handily 4-1.
“All of our lines competed better and moved the puck better in the second game,” noted Kaun.
“The Mavericks were making lots of cross-ice seam passes in the first game and we couldn’t do anything to stop them,” he added.
“But we started moving our feet in the second game,” Kaun said.
“Their goalie was stellar but Ziggy was better.”
McQuaker fell ill after the first game, which knocked her out for the next two and forced Kaun to move a blueliner up to forward.
That left him with just four rearguards, including his daughter and Gartzke.
“They played so good,” Kaun said.
“When Reece came back for the final round-robin game, I left the other defenceman up there and just stayed with the four of them back there.”
Borderland opened play with a 2-1 comeback win over the Stillwater Xtreme.
The Rage trailed 1-0 after two periods but Hayes tied it with 4:50 left in the third.
Then she set up Mariah White (Kenora) for the game-winner on the power-play with just 46 seconds left in regulation time.
The Rage then beat the South Dakota-based Solar Bears 4-1.
Whitney Gouin (International Falls) led the attack with a pair of goals while Hayes had a goal and two assists.
Gartzke chipped in with a short-handed tally.
The third game featured a showdown with the Minnesota Coyotes, which had beaten the Rage all three times they squared off last season.
This time, though, it was Borderland running the show with a 6-0 whitewash.
Hayes lit up the Coyotes for four goals while Emily Kaun and White added singles.
Skead posted the shutout.
Calder, the lone 12-year-old on the Rage roster, proved worthy of her spot against players with two more years’ experience by scoring the only goal in the team’s round-robin loss to the Mavericks.
McQuaker, Kaun, and Gartzke next will head to Minneapolis to join a Minnesota Selects team playing in a tournament beginning July 26.
The Rage’s next test will come at the end of August at a tournament in Vadnais Heights, Mn.