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Bethany Bigalke's Heroics Lifts Minnesota Moose to Girls Tier II 14U 2A National Title

By Trent Singer, 04/07/24, 11:15AM MDT


Bigalke recorded five shutouts in six games to help the Moose finish the tournament undefeated.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A perfect tournament run for the Minnesota Moose (MN) met its final test on Sunday morning, and they never shied away from the challenge.

Bethany Bigalke turned in one more dominant performance between the pipes, and the Moose knocked off their inner-state rivals, the Minnesota Lakers (MN), in a 1-0 decision to capture the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 14U 2A National Championship at the Scheels IcePlex.

“It’s just fantastic because it’s really all them,” Moose coach Andy Roeser said. “They’re a great group of kids. They get along so well together, and they just work hard and work hard for each other. The really rewarding thing is to see them put in a really great effort over the course of five days and get rewarded for it, playing the right way and being accountable for one another. These girls have just wonderful attitudes.

“It’s just rewarding to see them have such a great experience because they earned it.”

Bigalke finished with 21 saves, including 10 in the final period, to guide the Moose to victory.

The ninth grader from Lakeville, Minnesota, allowed just two goals after starting all six games in the tournament. Bigalke finished with a 0.33 goals against average and .983 save percentage, as the Moose went a perfect 6-0 to capture the top prize.

“For one, everyone played well in front of her, so we really had a good focus on good defensive play and good positioning because the Lakers are an outstanding team,” Roeser said. “If you would’ve asked me before the game, ‘Are we going to keep them off the scoreboard?’ I would’ve said, ‘No way, there’s just no chance. They’re too good.’

“We knew that if we played well and trusted that if we did make a mistake that she would have our back. She’s been phenomenal the whole week.”

The Lakers finished the first period with a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal and killed off the game’s first penalty late in the frame.

With 11:56 remaining in the second, Lakers goalie Kelsey Flinck made a pair of impressive stops to keep the game in a scoreless deadlock. A turnover led to a point-blank shot from the left side, and the rebound leaked out to Claire Berling, who fired a shot on net that was swallowed up by a sprawling Flinck at the last second.

Then, with 9:17 to play in the period, Jenna Goblirsch retrieved a stretch pass and got a breakaway chance, but Flinck was once again up for the challenge, stonewalling Goblirsch’s shot attempt.

“Kelsey played phenomenal the whole tournament,” Lakers coach Marit Zelinsky said about Flinck, who notched 15 saves in the loss. “She played five out of the six games, which is tough for a goalie because you get tired. She just stood on her head, so I’m really proud of her.”

Amelia Goblirsch tallied her seventh goal of the tournament to get the Moose on the board with 3:34 remaining in the second. After retrieving the puck from her twin sister, Jenna, on a feed across the slot, Amelia fired the puck past Flinck from the left circle, providing the game’s only goal.

“That whole top line is very talented offensively,” Roeser said. “We have a number of other good offensive players, too, but really everyone on this team kind of knew what their role was. They embraced it.”

In the regular season, the Moose and Lakers split their four games against each other, but the Moose prevailed in Sunday’s rubber match, taking home the national crown along the way.

“They’re doing all the work and all the things, and it’s just amazing to watch them have success, which they’ve earned,” Roeser said. “We’re extremely proud of them.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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