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Published January 19 2011

Walsh's late power-play goal pushes West Fargo past Fargo North in girls hockey

The West Fargo girls hockey team finished 1-for-8 on the power play Tuesday night.

However, the lone conversion was a big one.

Hayley Walsh’s power-play goal with 1:15 remaining lifted the Packers to a

3-2 victory against rival Fargo North and kept West Fargo in first place in the state standings at Veterans Arena.

“It was a huge struggle (on the power play),” Walsh said. “They were very good on the penalty kill. Their goaltender was really good. And we had trouble keeping control of the puck. … I think it’s coming along. It should get better.”

Those expecting a defensive struggle received a shock when Allison Springer put West Fargo ahead 1-0 at 1:29 of the period.

The Packers (12-1-0) put constant pressure on North goaltender Chelsey Sitzmann through much of the first.

Sitzmann and the Spartans were also hurt by three first-period penalties that allowed West Fargo to fly to the puck. North could only bear down on defense and ride it out.

When the smoke cleared, the Spartans remained in a 1-0 deficit.

Sitzmann made 13 saves, and the defense provided enough to keep North in the game.

West Fargo’s defense was spectacular in the first, allowing just five shots on goal. Packers goaltender Andrea Klug stopped them all.

North was 0-for-2 on the power play in the first period.

“It was two pretty evenly matched teams,” North assistant coach Lad Bjugson said. “We’re pretty close. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again. It comes down to special teams in games like this.”

The Spartans (9-4-0) tied the game at 1-1 on a Haley Olmstead goal at 10:15 of the second.

The offense opened up as fatigue hit both teams in the third.

Olmstead knotted the game at 2-2 with a power-play goal at 13:50 of the third.

Sitzmann finished with 36 saves. The teams combined for 17 penalties.

West Fargo has won five straight games against the Spartans, including a 3-1 victory in last year’s state title game. Three of the wins have been by one goal.

North won five straight against West Fargo before the Packers started their streak last season.

“It was about a foot away from the goal line, sitting in the crease,” Walsh said of the game-winner. “I just happened to be back door, so I just tapped it in.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, WF, A. Springer (Yliniemi), 1:29.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, FN, Olmstead (Garrett), 10:15 (pp).

THIRD PERIOD: 3, WF, Swanson (Sorlien), 1:17. 4, FN, Olmstead (Hieb, Garrett), 13:50 (pp). 5, WF, Walsh (K. Springer, Sopp), 15:45 (pp).

SAVES: FN, Sitzmann 13-8-15—36. WF, Klug 5-5-15—20.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com