SUBSCRIBE NOW Get a year of news PLUS a gift box!

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Olivia Dronen nets lone goal as Spuds ‘dig deep’ for shutout win over Brainerd-Little Falls

The 1-0 victory gave Moorhead its most section wins (6) since the 2011-12 season.

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead players celebrate Olivia Dronen's goal against Brainerd-Little Falls at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
We are part of The Trust Project.

MOORHEAD — It’s been a while since a Moorhead girls hockey team has been in the running to earn the top seed for the Section 8AA tournament. The Spuds gave themselves that chance Tuesday night with a win over Brainerd-Little Falls.

The 1-0 victory gave Moorhead its most section wins (six) since the 2011-12 season.

“We’ve worked all season to succeed in our section, and I think this win was definitely earned,” Moorhead freshman goalie Taylor Kressin said. “It was a big group effort. It took everybody pulling on the same rope and everybody working their hardest.”

Kressin posted a 24-save shutout as the Spuds (14-8-0) and Warriors (12-10-0) clashed at Moorhead Sports Center in a game that had playoff seeding implications. Heading into Tuesday’s contest, Moorhead had the top spot in Section 8AA with a 25 QRF (computer rankings). The Warriors were second in section standings with a QRF of 28.

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead goalie Taylor Kressin stops a shot by Brainerd-Little Falls' Molly Hagelie at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

BLF defeated Moorhead 1-0 in an earlier season meeting. The Warriors looked to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I think they've learned a lot through the course of the year,” Moorhead head coach Ryan Kraft said of his team. “I think they're finally believing that they belong, and they’re ready for a playoff run.”

That belief has taken three years.

“When I first got here, there was no belief that they were going to win,” said Kraft, in his third year at the helm.

The Spuds showed they can compete with any team on their schedule Tuesday. Junior defenseman Olivia Dronen netted the game’s only goal.

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Anika Stromme collides with Brainerd-Little Falls' Avery Lemieur at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

It was clear from the opening moments that nothing would come easy for either team. Both sides came out strong and set the tone for the fast-paced affair.

“It was a heck of a battle,” Dronen said. “It feels really good to beat Brainerd.”

Moorhead and BLF each had chances in the evenly matched first period, but neither side was able to capitalize. Kressin had a few big saves in the first frame, turning away a couple blasts from the point and a dangerous rebound attempt.

“We were playing good, but I still felt that there was a whole nother level we could get to,” Kraft said on what he told his team between periods. “I basically just emphasized how important it was to come out strong in the first five minutes. It kind of carried right through the whole period. The last three-four minutes of the second period they took it to us a little bit, but we controlled the play for the majority of the period.”

ADVERTISEMENT

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead goalie Taylor Kressin keeps her eye on the puck as play gets heated in the crease against Brainerd-Little Falls at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

After a scoreless first frame, Dronen lit the lamp for Moorhead 54 seconds into the second period. She banged home the second rebound in a series of shots and the puck trickled across the goal line for the first and only score of the game.

“The puck came out and my first instinct was to just slam it in,” Dronen said.

The Spuds dominated the first half of the second period and put the Warriors on their heels. BLF got its first shot on net of the period six minutes in.

There were few whistles in the back-and-forth second frame.

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Olivia Dronen puts a shot on Brainerd-Little Falls goalie Breya Sawyer while being defended by Riah Stroot at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

“We worked as hard as we possibly could,” Kressin said. “We went out every shift busting our butts, working 100% and giving our all. I don’t think anything was left out on the ice.”

The final 17 minutes would be a battle. Moorhead’s offensive pressure forced BLF to ice the puck early. The Spuds were stout in the neutral zone and took away passing lanes.

Both teams killed penalties in the third period. Moorhead managed several shots on a late power play, but none got past Warriors goalie Breya Sawyer, who turned away 23 shots Tuesday.

“We just talked about it really comes down to who wants it more,” Dronen said. “We had to dig really deep.”

ADVERTISEMENT

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Ella Holm battles in the crease for the puck against Brainerd-Little Falls at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

The Warriors pulled their goalie with a minute and a half remaining, but were unable to get much of anything going offensively.

“The girls fought hard all the way through till the end,” Kraft said. “We got the one lucky bounce that mattered in the end. We feel pretty good about ourselves right now.”

Moorhead hosts section foe Bemidji (3-14-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday.

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, M, Dronen (Kosobud, Krieg), 0:54.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: M, Kressin 8-7-9—24. BLF, Sawyer 9-8-6—23.

012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Ella Holm tangles with Brainerd-Little Falls' Kristina Baillif at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Anika Stromme collides with Brainerd-Little Falls' Avery Lemieur at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
012622.s.ff.SpudsGirlsHockey
Moorhead's Olivia Dronen skates past Brainerd-Little Falls' Molly Hagelie and teammate Bria Holm at the Moorhead Sports Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Carissa Wigginton is a high school sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. A Fargo native, she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Wigginton joined The Forum’s sports department in August 2019.
What to read next
FARGO — Fargo South scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to upend Grand Forks Red River in an Eastern Dakota Conference game on Wednesday.
West Fargo clinches EDC regular-season title
Madison baseball field damaged after high winds hit the southwest Minnesota on May 12
GRAND FORKS — West Fargo rolled by Grand Forks Red River on Tuesday in Eastern Dakota Conference play.