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Fusion Culver Cup consolation champs, host Hudson 7 p.m. tonight

Submitted photo.

After dropping the first game at the Culver Cup in Madison last week, the St. Croix Valley Fusion girls' hockey came back to win its next two games to claim the consolation championship, sealing the title with a 2-1 victory over Arrowhead on Saturday.

"The girls played some good hockey and had lots of fun in Madison," head coach Matt Cranston said. "The players and families had a lot of fun on the three day trip. We were able to see some of the city and campus and play three fun games."

The fun included Fusion goalie Kalli Armagost picking up an assist in the team's 4-2 victory over the Stevens Point/Wisconsin Rapids Red Panthers on Friday. Armagost came out of the net and intercepted a Red Panther icing attempt and fired it up to Maddie Rowe, who deked around a couple of defenders, and slipped the puck high past the blocker of the Red Panther goalie to give the Fusion a 1-0 lead early in the second period.

The Fusion kicked their game into high gear and scored three unanswered power play goals, two by Micha Bennett, to open up a 4-0 lead.

Bennett put back a rebound at the 5:37 mark, with assists going to Sally Cranston and Tori Forseth.

Cranston grabbed a loose puck on the left side and punched it into the net just as a Fusion 5-on-3 advantage was winding down to make it a 3-0 game, with assists from Rowe and Heather Shew, before Bennett scored her second power play goal 22 seconds later by putting back the rebound of a shot by Rowe. Cranston also earned an assist on the goal.

The Red Raiders scored goals on their first and last shifts of the third period to make the final 4-2. Armagost stopped 33 of 35 shots she faced in addition to picking up a rare assist for a goalie.

Saturday against Arrowhead, Rowe accounted for both Fusion goals in their 2-1 victory.

After a scoreless first period, Rowe scored a power play goal, assisted by Cranston and Shew, at the 9:18 mark of the second. The Warhawks answered about a minute later before Rowe got her second goal of the game, unassisted, at the end of the period. 

Neither team scored in the third period and the Fusion claimed the consolation title with a 2-1 victory. Armagost finished with 21 saves as the Fusion outshot the Warhawks, 28-22. 

The Fusion opened Culver Cup play with a 4-0 loss to the fourth-ranked Brookfield Glaciers.

"Not a great performance by our girls but we did learn and work on a new system in this game that will help us in the future," Cranston said.

Fusion goalie Carlie Christensen stopped 34 of the 38 shots she faced.

The Fusion will host Hudson in their Big Rivers Conference Thursday , Jan. 3, at 7 p.m. at the United Civic Center in Baldwin. Saturday, Jan. 5, they visit Superior for a 2 p.m. faceoff.

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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