WEST GOSHEN — It may not have been the start head coach Lauren Patterson was looking for, but her Downingtown East girls hockey team was still able to come away with a resounding 4-1 victory over West Chester East at Ice Line Friday afternoon.
“The team had a little bit of a slow start,” Patterson said. “They really turned it on and forced a lot of turnovers and did a great job on the forecheck, which caused a lot of our goals.”
Senior defenseman Katie Stueve, who was MVP of the girls Flyers Cup last season, kept her dominance going in the game.
She had a hand in each of Downingtown’s (3-0) goals, ending the game with a hat trick and an assist.
“Katie is a dominant force every time she’s on the ice,” Patterson said. “She makes every player around her better. I was thrilled to see her be able to take the puck up on rushes and I also love seeing her get an assist on the power play to Molly Rearden in front.”
It was a tough job for West Chester (0-1) junior goaltender Danielle Latare to face a player such as Stueve, but she stood on her head on numerous occasions to keep her team in the game until the very end.
“She just started playing about eight or 10 games ago,” said West Chester head coach Lauren Koller. “She started with us on Spring League in May and just made incredible stops and progressed. We have a coach working with her. She’s very athletic and a catcher for a softball team so she just has that athletic-ness and is doing really well.”
With the pressure mounting, West Chester East attempted to clear the puck out of its end, but Stueve cut it off at the blue line and launched a slap shot, which Latare at 5:55 of the first.
Stueve followed up just under six minutes later when she took the puck from goal line to goal line, cutting in front of a West Chester defender and beat Latara glove-side for a 2-0 lead after one period.
Downingtown East struck again in the third period on its second power-play opportunity of the game.
With only two seconds left in the man-advantage, sophomore Carly Kloss tried a wraparound, but freshman Rearden was there to wrangle the loose puck and sling it into the net at 6:18.
However, West Chester wasn’t going to be shutout of the game.
Freshman defenseman Jennifer Porter skated from her own blue line, down the left wing and cut to the side of the net and snapped a shot top shelf on goaltender Kat Hoppe at 12:07.
Just 1:12 later, Stueve answered back as she sped down the ice on a 1-on-2 and wristed her shot glove-side again, ringing off both posts and in for her first hat trick of the season.
But it wasn’t just the Stueve show as on the other end of the ice, Hoppe was stopping shot after shot coming her way.
“I expect her every game to be one of the best goalies in the league,” Patterson said. “She turned away pucks and did a great job covering up pucks to keep the other team from second and third chances.”
Downingtown East has now gotten off to a 3-0 start to the season and currently leads the Girls Varsity division of the ICSHL.
“I don’t want to say I expect a win every time they’re on the ice, but I do expect the girls to be able to come out and compete every game and hopefully force our team to get a ‘W,’” Patterson said.