Chix with Stix off to hot start

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— Taking last season off for maternity leave hasn't affected Diane Dwire's game.

Dwire scored four of the Chix with Stix's eight goals in two games during the weekend against the Northern Colorado Comets in Fort Collins.

"At least she took turns," joked teammate Lynne Meyers after the game. Dwire, who led the team in points last season, scored the Chix's first and third goals Saturday night.

The first goal came when defenseman Jodi Lightfoot assisted Dwire on a first-period breakaway. Two minutes later, forward Holly Curtiss scored on an assist from center Cathy Wiedemer.

Although the Chix dominated play, Comets goalie Elisabeth Gordon turned back all scoring attempts in the second period. But just seconds into the third period, Curtiss set up an ideal shot for Dwire that earned both players their second points of the game.

Four minutes later, Wiedemer found an open Meyers, who placed a perfect shot just out of the keeper's reach.

The Chix held their lead by keeping the puck in the offensive zone with fierce fore-checking and solid back-checking.

The Comets' best opportunity was squelched by heads-up play from Chix keeper Nikki Knoebel. Knoebel shut down a fast break from the Comets with a diving save, and defensemen Julia Wallace finished off any attempt for a rebound to seal the shutout.

"This is how you play hockey, supporting your teammates and relentless fore-checking," Chix coach Tim Shorland said after the 4-0 win.

In the Sunday afternoon rematch, the Comets brought their "A" game and put the first two points on the board.

But Dwire again drove her team into action. She scored in the second period with 11:04 on the clock. Three and a half minutes later, Comets forward Sarah Smith earned a hat trick to restore the two-goal lead.

The Chix answered with 20-year-old Carly Helm, who found the back of the net after a pass from center Melanie Nimtz, her second assist of the game.

The third period was scoreless until Dwire tied the game with 4:04 left. Nimtz again had the assist.

In the last minute, the Chix's defensive zone experienced dejà vu when Knoebel and Wallace again spoiled a Comets breakaway to send the game to overtime.

All three forward lines and both defensive lines kept the puck in the offensive zone for most of overtime. With 2:46 left in the five-minute overtime, Sue Hieneke sent the puck over to Helm, who one-timed it for the 4-3 win.

The Chix open play at home at 9 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Howelsen Ice Arena.

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