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Panthers lock up No. 5 seed in section with 9-0 victory over Lake of the Woods

Alex Pederson went after the puck during Thursday night's game against Lake of the Woods.

The Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team closed out its home schedule in style with a 9-0 win over Lake of the Woods Thursday night at the Ted O. Johnson Ice Arena.

McKenna Brand tallied her eighth hat trick of the season while Hannah Williams had a goal and three assists as the Panthers defeated LOW for the second time this season. The win gives Park Rapids the No. 5 seed for the Section 8A playoffs.

Brand opened the scoring just 30 seconds into the game and followed with another goal at the 5:55 mark. Williams assisted on that goal. Ashley Thelen set up Alex Pederson with 3:29 to play in the first period before Thelen scored a shorthanded goal with 46 seconds left to give the Panthers a 4-0 cushion. Park Rapids held a 21-6 advantage in shots in the opening period.

Power-play goals by Heather Brostrom and Abby Fischer pushed the Panthers' lead to 8-0 after the second period. Williams assisted on Brostrom's goal at the 2:08 mark and joined Jessica Gapinski with assists as Brand completed her hat trick at the 7:57 mark. Brand set up Williams with 2:17 to play in the second period before Bailee Jerger set up Fischer with 40 seconds left. The Panthers dominated that period, holding a 15-0 edge in shots.

The Panthers concluded the scoring when Gapinski scored with 47 seconds to play. Pederson and Brostrom assisted on that goal.

Shania Johnson made 10 saves as the Panthers posted their fourth shutout of the season.

Park Rapids improved to 2-7 against section teams while Lake of the Woods fell to 0-8 against section opponents and 0-19-1 overall.

"I believe that we have been playing well because of the balance of the top three lines that we are running. We are able to roll three solid lines against most opponents, which is something we haven't been able to do in the past few years. It helps us to put together a full, three-period game," said Park Rapids head coach Chris Albee. "At the beginning of the season we had a really hard time putting together a decent first period. Now that the team is starting to gel, I think our mental preparation for the game is starting to improve. The girls have put together a solid performance in all three periods the past few games."

Lake o fthe Woods0 0 0.....0

Park Rapids 4 4 1.....9

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Park Rapids, Brand, :30. 2, Park Rapids, Brand (Williams), 5:55. 3, Park Rapids, Pederson (Thelen), 13:31. 4, Park Rapids, Thelen, 16:14. Penalties: LOW 1, Park Rapids 1.

SECOND PERIOD: 5, Park Rapids, Brostrom (Williams), 2:08. 6, Park Rapids, Brand (Williams, Gapinski), 7:57. 7, Park Rapids, Williams (Brand), 14:43. 8, Park Rapids, Fischer (Jerger), 16:20. Penalties: LOW 4, Park Rapids 1.

THIRD PERIOD: 9, Park Rapids, Gapinski (Pederson, Brostrom), 16:13. Penalties: LOW 0, Park Rapids 1.

GOALIE SAVES: LOW (Ney) 17-11-5-33. Park Rapids (Johnson) 6-0-4-10.

Kishel leads E-G by Panthers

Emma Kishel's hat trick led Eveleth-Gilbert to a 6-2 win over the Panthers Saturday afternoon at Hoyt Lakes.

Kishel's power-play goal opened the scoring before Gapinski set up Williams at the 14:53 mark to tie the game after the first period.

Goals by Maari Benda and Amy Rice gave Eveleth a 3-1 lead after two periods.

Katie Kingston gave Eveleth a 4-1 lead before Kishel completed her hat trick with another power-play goal and a shorthanded goal. McKenna Brand scored with 13 seconds to play to conclude the scoring. Gapinski and Williams assisted on that goal.

Johnson made 28 saves for the Panthers, who fell to 9-12 on the season. The Golden Bears, who defeated Park Rapids 5-3 earlier this season, improved to 15-8.

Park Rapids 1 0 1.....2

Eveleth-Gilbert 1 2 3.....6

FIRST PERIOD: 1, Eveleth, Kishel (Moe), 13:35. 1, Park Rapids, Williams (Gapinski), 14:53. Penalties: Park Rapids 3, Eveleth 2.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, Eveleth, Benda (Moe), 1:09. 3, Eveleth, Rice (Christy, Maki), 5:46. Penalties: Park Rapids 1, Eveleth 3.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, Eveleth, Kingston (Arbogast, Westin), 3:15. 5, Eveleth, Kishel (Maki), 7:56. 6, Eveleth, Kishel, 14:01. 2, Park Rapids, Brand (Gapinski, Williams), 16:47. Penalties: Park Rapids 4, Eveleth 4.

GOALIE SAVES: Park Rapids (Johnson) 10-9-9-28. Eveleth (Fossland) 7-9-5-21.