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Fusion win battle of top-ranked teams

St. Croix Valley sophomore Hailey Rock avoids a New Richmond defender in the Fusion's 7-0 victory over the Tigers Thursday night in New Richmond. Dave Newman photo

Heidi VanDell's goal with 32 seconds remaining in the game broke a scoreless tie and lifted the top-ranked St. Croix Valley Fusion girls' hockey team to a 1-0 victory over the No. 2 Central Wisconsin Storm Saturday in Schofield.

The win was the second shutout in a row for St. Croix Valley, who blanked New Richmond 7-0 two nights earlier.

The Fusion tightened their grip on the No. 1 spot in the Wisconsin Girls Hockey rankings and take a 19-4-1 regular season record into the postseason, where they will host Superior Thursday at 7 p.m. at the United Civic Center in Baldwin.

The team will bring plenty of momentum into the playoffs following its 1-0 victory over the Storm, a cooperative team made up of players from Wausau West, Wausau East, Mosinee and DC Everest.

Saturday's showdown between the top two teams in the state was played at the Greenheck Fieldhouse in Schofield.

"One of the biggest crowds I have ever seen at a girls hockey game," Fusion coach Joe Cranston noted.

The Fusion outshot the Storm 17-9 in the first two periods but the game remained scoreless until VanDell scored with 32 seconds remaining, assisted by Heather Shew.

The Storm called a timeout and pulled its goalie but the Fusion won the faceoff and ate the puck to kill the remaining few seconds.

"Kalli (Armagost) played another great game," Cranston said about the Fusion's freshman goaltender, who made 15 saves to record her second straight shutout and seventh of the season.

Two nights earlier, Armagost got plenty of help from her teammates as the Fusion blanked New Richmond 7-0.

Alice Cranston had four goals and an assist, Tanis Klingler had two goals, Georgie Shimek tallied a goal and Tara Frey dished out four assists in the win.

VanDell contributed a pair of assists while Tori Klingler and Darcy Behringer had one each.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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