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It was all smiles for the new-look South Washington County girls hockey team as Cassie Goff (center, above) scored the first goal of the season en route to a 9-0 win over Robbinsdale Cooper in the 2009-10 opener on Saturday, Nov. 21. Staff Photo by Tom Carothers.

A good start for Royal Raptors

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A brand-new era in District 833 hockey began in triumphant -- if not slightly sloppy -- manner as the South Washington County girls team kicked off its "inaugural" season with a 9-0 defeat of Robbinsdale Cooper on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the Bielenberg Sports Center.

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"It felt really good to drop the puck," head coach Stacy Anderson said. "With so much going on in the off-season, it was a relief to be playing."

The Royal Raptors, as the Woodbury/East Ridge cooperative squad will be known in 2009-10 and for as long as the tandem exists, hosted the Hawks in the first game of a home-and-home series that will conclude on Friday, Nov. 27 in Robbinsdale and treated their visitors quite rudely by scoring four goals in each of the final two periods after notching just one score in the opening frame.

"It was important for us to have a good start," assistant coach Corbin Schmidt said. "There was more good than bad in this game."

Shortly after junior forward April Weller had a golden scoring opportunity stolen away on an amazing save by Hawks goaltender Jessica Burns on SWC's first power play of the year, eighth-grade forward Cassie Goff lit the lamp at 11:04 to give the hosts all the offense they could need in the contest.

"It was good to see us score a lot of goals, but it was just as important that we didn't get scored on," Anderson said.

The Royal Raptors didn't stop there, as sophomore defender Clare Shaw doubled her team's advantage just 28 seconds into the second period. The rout was on minutes later as a short-handed goal by Shaw at 4:16 was joined by another score from sophomore forward Rachel Letsche at 5:32 and one more from senior forward Alexa Jacobsen as SWC led 5-0 heading into the second intermission.

A score by junior forward Sydney Falconer made for a quick third period as her goal at 3:48 sent the game into running time for the remainder of the evening.

With time truncated, the Royal Raptors still managed three more scores on Cooper, with junior forward Emily Moris, Weller and Falconer each making good on scoring chances to bring the count to its final nine-goal spread.

Schmidt said he was impressed that the home club "stuck to the system" and didn't get distracted on the ice despite the lopsided score.

"The girls attention was drifting a bit on the bench, but as soon as they hit the ice, it was game time," he said.

The Royal Raptors figures to be tested considerably more in game No. 2 as the squad opens its Suburban East Conference campaign at White Bear Lake on Tuesday, Nov. 24.

"I'm looking for these girls to work hard and display confidence (at White Bear)," Anderson said. "We are a great team when we work hard, we are mediocre to bad when we don't."

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