The Prior Lake girls hockey team has work to do to improve its standing in the South Suburban Conference.
The Lakers dropped their first two league games, falling 6-1 at Shakopee Nov. 16 and losing 6-2 at home to Lakeville South Nov. 19.
Prior Lake has allowed 15 goals in its first three games, including a 3-1 loss at Orono to open the season Nov. 12. The Lakers won just four total games last year and had a 2-16 mark in the SSC.
The last time Prior Lake had a winning conference mark was in the 2009-10 when it finished 10-3-1 in the now-defunct Missota Conference. The Lakers joined the SSC the next year and the most league wins the team has had in nine years is six.
The 2009-10 season is also the last time the program has had a winning record when it went 15-9-1. Prior Lake has only reached double-digit wins once since that season, finishing 12-14-1 two seasons ago.
Prior Lake has a young team with just three seniors — Paige Pavlish, Kya Ochsendorf and Bri Elbon — so there could be more growing pains.
But there's also some talent. Ninth-grader Lula Swanson and sophomore Ryane Kearns had the Lakers' goals in the loss to Lakeville South. Pavlish had two assists, and junior Cayla Collins had one.
Elbon finished with 26 saves in goal.
Prior Lake was down 2-1 late in the first period and was on the power play. But Lakeville South scored shorthanded to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.
Swanson scored 3:13 into the second period cut the deficit again to one goal, but the Cougars responded with two more goals to take control.
Against Shakopee, sophomore Lindsey Grove scored Prior Lake's goal in the second period which tied the game at 1-1. But the Sabers responded with three goals in the final 6:09 of the period to take a 4-1 lead.
Sophomore Halle Hallberg and Ochsendorf had assists for Prior Lake. Elbon finished with 25 saves.
In the loss to Orono, ninth-grader Ava Guillemette had the Lakers' lone goal, scoring unassisted in the second period to tie the game. The Spartans scored the go-ahead goal 5:44 into the third period and made it a two-goal advantage with 4:19 to play.
Elbon finished with 24 saves.
Prior Lake is back on the SSC ice Nov. 23 at Apple Valley at 6 p.m., before returning home Nov. 26 to take on Lakeville North in league action at 7 p.m.
The Lakers will face New Prague to open their own Thanksgiving tournament Nov. 29 at 3:15 p.m. Chaska/Chanhassen and St. Francis will meet in the other first-round game with the winners and losers facing off the next day.
New Prague and Chaska/Chanhassen are also Section 2AA foes, as is Shakopee.