Faribault got balanced scoring Thursday in a season-opening 4-2 victory over a plucky Albert Lea squad at the Faribault Ice Arena.
It certainly wasn’t the 9-1 rout last season that the Falcons put on the Tigers en route to an appearance in the Section 1A title game, but Faribault displayed its depth and got a fine performance from Falcons senior goaltender Mikayla Bohner to start the season on a good note.
“We got stronger as the game went on,” Faribault head coach Mike Dietsch said. “Our third period was our best period. Our seniors definitely led the game and controlled the play.”
Junior winger Anna Selly gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game when she came in on a rush from the right circle and fired a shot that found the goal just 1 minute, 50 seconds into the game.
Faribault held a 10-7 edge in shots after the first period and never relinquished the lead.
Senior winger Abigail Goodwin extended the lead to 2-0 at the 11:08 mark of the second period when she scored on a rebound of her own shot.
But just 31 seconds later, Albert Lea, a Section 1A playoff semifinalist last season, responded when Katelyn Steven knocked in a rebound to halve the lead to 2-1.
It stayed that way the rest of the period despite the Falcons going on a 5-on-3 power play for 2 minutes near the end of the period. Faribault failed to capitalize on the opportunity and finished with 14 shots for the period.
“A 5-on-3, I’d like to be able to go to an umbrella and just keep shooting but we haven’t practiced it much,” Dietsch said. “If this was December or January we would’ve been able to practice it. We’ve been trying to simply things for them. We got pretty sloppy there, especially on the power play. It’s to be expected this first game out.”
The Falcons extended the lead to 3-1 when eighth-grade winger Isabelle Stephes knocked in a rebound in front of the Albert Lea goal at the 9:31 mark.
Once again, the Tigers didn’t wait long to answer when Lucy Stay scored a power-play goal off a nice pass from Mia Fjelsta to make it a 3-2 game with 6:18 left to play.
Faribault senior center Olivia Williamson put the game out of reach with a beautiful backhand, top-shelf goal with 1:02 left to play.
The Falcons finished with 39 shots on goal and held Albert Lea to 19.
“They’ve got a very aggressive forecheck that gave us some problems,” Dietsch said. “But they’ve got some really nice players and a nice goalie.”
Bohner came up big in the first period by making a save on a breakaway to preserve the 1-0 lead and later in the game made another clutch save to hold onto the lead.
“She’s very in control of herself and she’s been playing the position for a long time,” Dietsch said. “You can just tell she has that composure, that savvy to play. She came out and met the attacker.”
Early on, Faribault struggled to get shots to the net as the Tigers blocked several shots. Dietsch expects to stretch the ice in the future to open shooting lanes.
“We still play the game in the middle of the ice and I’m working hard to play the game on the outside,” he said. “When you play the game in the middle, it clogs up the shooting lanes.”
The Falcons face Waseca Tuesday at the Faribault Ice Arena.