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Panthers open season with 2-1 win at Morris

Lexi Hinkley-Smith and Alexa Kennedy scored goals while goalie Kylee Pachel made 18 saves as the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team opened the season with a 2-1 win over Morris/Benson Saturday afternoon at the Morris Civic Center.

After a scoreless first period, Morris/Benson opened the scoring on Kortney Sanasack's goal at the 2:12 mark of the second period. Hinkley-Smith countered on an assist by Abigale Strandlie at the 16:21 mark to tie the game. Park Rapids held a 22-11 advantage in shots in the first two periods.

Taylor Sagen assisted on Kennedy's game-winner at the 12:34 mark of a penalty-marred third period. Both teams were whistled for four penalties in the last 17 minutes with both teams going 0-for-6 on power plays in the game.

Pachel stopped 18 of 19 shots for the win as the Panthers held a 30-19 advantage in shots.

"I was happy how the girls took control of the game from start to finish. It took us a long time to solve their goalie. We outshot Morris/Benson, so we felt comfortable throughout the game. The girls showed poise going down a goal in the second period before tying it up before going into the third period," said Park Rapids head coach Erik Myhre. "It was key to not get frustrated being turned away at the net after having all of those quality scoring chances. It took the whole team to pull this off. The opening win is always a good confidence builder for the team. It shows that the systems we practiced early will help us as we perfect the processes."

Park Rapids 0 1 1...2

Morris/Benson 0 1 0...1

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring. Penalties: Park Rapids 1, Morris/Benson 0.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, Morris/Benson, Sanasack (Watzke), 2:12. 1, Park Rapids, Hinkley-Smith (Strandlie), 16:21. Penalties: Park Rapids 1, Morris/Benson 2.

THIRD PERIOD: 2, Park Rapids, Kennedy (T. Sagen), 12:34. Penalties: Park Rapids 4, Morris/Benson 4.

GOALIE SAVES: Park Rapids (Pachel) 9-1-8--18. Morris/Benson (Hoffman) 12-9-7--28.