A pair of first-period goals off of bizarre plays from the New Ulm Eagles propelled them to a 3-0 win Thursday night against the Minnesota River Bulldogs girls hockey team. A lack of consistent puck control from the Bulldogs plagued them throughout the game and made it difficult to maintain an offensive attack.

"In our first period we had a couple of flukes and mishaps that resulted in them getting two lucky goals," Bulldogs coach Madison Bergren said. "Something we teach is control what you can control which is your effort and your attitude and they played as hard as they could to get the goals back, it just didn't happen."

The first goal from the Eagles came with 4 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first period when a loose puck outside of the of the goal crease was batted around by a number of players from both teams before bouncing up into the air and just over the head of Minnesota River goaltender Amilia Messer.

The next goal came with 3:05 remaining in the first when a pass in neutral ice deflected off a stick towards a New Ulm forward who was already skating towards the goal. She was able to corral the puck and after a series of stick moves she was able to put away the puck on the breakaway goal.

Despite those goals, Messer appeared to play stronger as the night went on. She turned away shot after shot with several glove saves and a couple of nice stick saves.

"Amilia is doing everything we ask of her and more," Bergren said. "She fights out there, she stays focused and she doesn't let the game phase her."

The Eagles were able to add a third goal on a puck that got lost in a crowd, but after that, Messer turned away 22 shots in the third period to keep New Ulm from adding anymore.

Overall, the Bulldogs were outshot 51-13 with Messer recording 48 saves on the night and there was only a single penalty called, an elbowing on the Eagles in the second period.

A focus for Minnesota River will be the way that they open games going forward.

"We are trying to make sure the girls are eating right and getting sleep the night before as well as have quality warmups," Bergren said. "Another thing is making sure the first and last two minutes of each period we do not allow any goals and hope that it helps us set the tone."

 The team named eighth grade forward Macey Portner of St. Peter the hardest working player of the game for consistently maintaining her spacing and positioning all night.

The Bulldogs return to the ice Saturday, Nov. 20 when they travel to Luverne with puck drop scheduled for 3 p.m.

Reach Reporter Ben Camp at 931-8566 or follow him on Twitter @SPHvalleysports. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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