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Fusion still undefeated

St. Croix Valley Fusion junior Haley Rock (18) stuffs the puck past ECA Stars goaltender Jordyn Bruce for the first goal of the game in the Fusion's 7-2 victory last Tuesday night at Wildcat Centre. Rock had a hat trick and assisted on another goal in the win. Bob Burrows photo

The St. Croix Valley Fusion won their Big Rivers Conference opener against the Eau Claire-Altoona Stars last Tuesday before improving to 5-0 overall with a 4-3 win Thursday at Breck, Minn.

Saturday's highly-anticipated matchup between the second-ranked Fusion and No. 1 Central Wisconsin Storm (Mosinee), scheduled to be played at Baldwin's United Civic Center, was cancelled due to the severe snow storm that blew through the state. No make-up date has been announced.

The Fusion return to action against the Capital City Cougars (Sun Prairie) Friday at 8 p.m. in Baldwin.

Last Tuesday, Hailey Rock had three goals and an assist and Alice Cranston had a goal and an assist in the Fusion's 7-2 victory over the Stars.

Rock scored the only goal of the first period, unassisted, to give St. Croix Valley a 1-0 lead. She extended the Fusion lead to 2-0 early in the second period with assists from linemates Alice Cranston and Tara Frey.

After ECA pulled to within one, Frey put one away at the 8:40 mark of the second, assisted by Cranston and Heather Shew, to extend the lead to 3-1. The Stars scored a minute later to pull within a goal again before Cranston buried a shot from the top of the slot in the final minute of the period to give the Fusion a 4-2 lead. Nikki Plunkett and Sig Dangeur assisted on the goal.

The third period was all Fusion as they outshot the Stars 13-2.

Cranston scored her second goal of the game, assisted by Rock and Frey, to make it a 5-2 game before Rock completed her hat trick with a shorthanded goal, assisted by Sally Cranston, to make it a 6-2 score. Sally Cranston made the final 7-2 with an unassisted goal with under a minute remaining.

"We started out a bit sloppy and slow but finished strong," head coach Matt Cranston said about the win.

Thursday against Breck, one of the top teams in Minnesota, the Fusion scored a pair of goals in the third period to take a 4-2 lead, then held off the Mustangs for a 4-3 victory.

"I don't think many people expected the Fusion to even stay in this game, and certainly not come away with a win," Cranston said. "When all your players play a great game, individually and as a team, good things happen."

After falling behind 1-0, the Fusion tied the score on a power play goal by Frey with Rock and Shew assisting at the 9:19 mark of the first.

Breck took a 2-1 lead early in the second period but the Fusion came right back when Plunkett scored, assisted by Alice Cranston and Micha Bennett, to make it a 2-2 game after two.

St. Croix Valley took its first lead of the game at the 6:28 mark of the third when Frey skated coast-to-coast along the boards and found Rock in front for a goal.

Less than two minutes later, Dangeur made a rink-wide pass to Rock, who skated in against two Mustang defenders before firing a low shot that was stopped by the Breck goalie. Rock dove trough the defenders and was able to get her stick on the rebound and slap it into the back of the net to give the Fusion a 4-2 lead.

"That was a great, extra effort goal," Fusion assistant coach Karl Erickson said.

Breck cut the Fusion lead to 4-3 two minutes later but the Fusion held on for the victory. St. Croix Valley goaltender Kalli Armagost made 17 saves in the win.

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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