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Girls hockey: 2018-19 southeastern Minnesota season previews

November 11, 2018

Mayo’s Luella Bianco (19) and Century’s Victoria Johnson (13) battle for a puck during a girls hockey game last season. Mayo opens its 2018-19 season today, while Century opens its season on Thursday.

AUSTIN PACKERS

Head coach: Carley Grunewald. Assistant: Grace Heimsness.

Last season: 9-16-0 overall, 6-12-0 Big Nine Conference.

2018-19 outlook: The Packers are loaded with upperclassmen and experienced players. They had 11 players record at least one point last season, and 10 of those players return. Leading scorer Myia Hoium (22-16—38) was the lone scorer to graduate. Austin also has all three of its varsity goalies back from last season.

Seniors Faith Sayles and Cassity Nangle, and sophomore Shelby Davidson-Newkirk all saw time in goal last year. Sayles (4-7-0, 5.06 GAA, .871 save pct.) and Davidson-Newkirk (3-6-0, 5.89, .842) split most of the action.

The Packers’ top returning scorers are senior defenseman Lily Holtz (13-22—35), junior forward Jordyn McCormack (19-14—33), senior forward Jaiden Schuster (14-14—28) and senior forward Hannah McMasters (11-13—24).

ROSTER

Seniors – F Erin Bickler, D Lily Holtz, F Hannah McMasters, D Kylee Hanlon, D Jillian Bastyr, F Jaiden Schuster, G Faith Sayles, G Cassity Nangle. Junior – F Jordyn McCormack. Sophomores – F Alexis Stich, G Shelby Davidson-Newkirk. Freshmen – F Isikiyah Hemann, D Samantha Krueger, F Megan Schultz, F Kate Holtz, F Mikiah Rumsey. Eighth-graders – F Hailee Schaefer, D Sarah Wangen.

• • •

DODGE COUNTY WILDCATS

Head coach: Jeremy Gunderson

Assistants: Chad Smallbrock, Jeff Bolin, Joe Wieners, Tim Fagerlind, Jeremy Schubert

Last season: 15-11-0 overall

2018-19 outlook: The Wildcats lost eight talented seniors – three of whom moved on to play college hockey – but have a solid group of returning players at all positions and good numbers, with 45 players out for the team.

They’re led by six players who had double-digit points a year ago. That group includes forwards Olivia Smallbrock (14-19—33), Kennedy Kraus (11-11—22), Lyndi Schubert (4-8—12) and Olivia Lamb (3-8—11), and defenders Kayla Schubert (14-5—19) and Ashley Donovan (3-8—11).

Other top returners include forwards Anna Braun, Kennedy Hodgkins and Malia Schubert, and defenders Elizabeth Fagerlind and Samantha Eberling.

Junior goalie Annabel Smith is back, as well, after going 15-11-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average, an .864 save percentage and four shutouts last season. She’ll be joined by sophomore Sky Hughes.

“We’ll be led by three solid forward lines, which all return from last year’s team,” coach Jeremy Gunderson said, “a strong defensive corps of four returning starters and goalies competing for the starting spot. We’ll play a very strong schedule, (against) some of the top-ranked Class A and AA teams in the state. This team should really grow from the difficult schedule and be ready come section playoff time.”

ROSTER

Seniors – D Ashley Donovan, D Sam Eberling, F Kennedy Hodgkins, F Olivia Smallbrock. Juniors – F Kayla Schubert, F Kennedy Kraus, F Olivia Lamb, F Malia Schubert, D Awnnalynn Hughes, F Jordyn Bauer, F Katie Fliehr, G Annabel Smith. Sophomores – G Sky Hughes, F Lily Carstensen, D Elizabeth Fagerlind, F Anna Braun, F McKenna Freerksen, D Olivia Smith, F Taylor Ludvigsen, F Nevaeh Trihey. Freshmen – D Katelyn Courteau, F Lyndi Schubert, D Emily Anderson, F Ashley Jensen, D Halle Determan, F McKenzie Horton, D Brooklyn Horton, F Natalie Ahern, G Anna Poirier. Eighth-graders – F Taylor Winkels, F Ionee Jurrens, F Mena Faber, D Mady Krause, F Abby Zeitler, D Meredith Holmen, G Caitlin Bebee, F Inga Skoglund, D Emma Kramer, D Great Petree, D Cami Wix, F Sienna Zelinske. Seventh-graders – D Abby Simons, D Taylor Dick, G Jerilyn Eberling.

• • •

RED WING WINGERS

Head coach: Nicole Olson

Assistant: Bob Kibes

Last season: 24-6-0 (Section 1A champion, sixth place at state); 12-1-0 Big Nine Conference

2018-19 outlook: It’s a new era of Wingers hockey in many ways this fall.

Nicole Olson takes over as the program’s head coach; she replaces Scott Haley, who retired in March after 12 seasons as the Wingers’ head coach. Also gone is one of the best – if not the best – player to come through the program, 2018 Miss Hockey winner Taylor Heise, who is now a freshman at the University of Minnesota.

The cupboard isn’t bare, by any means, though. All-state defenseman Emily Hart returns for her senior season after putting up 12 goals and 41 points as a junior. Hart is the only one of Red Wing’s top seven scorers last year who is back. Forward Delaynee Fox (1-6—7) is the only other senior on the Wingers’ roster.

Sophomore Eliza DiNatale will join Hart as a leader on the blue line. DiNatale had five goals and 11 points last season.

The Wingers lost a long-time standout in goal, when Tyler McGrath decided not to play this season. She played nearly every minute last season, going 24-6-0 with a miniscule 1.64 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and seven shutouts.

The Wingers have three goalies listed on the roster, who will compete for time, but eighth-grader Leigha Kitzmann has shown the ability in practice to become the team’s starter. Kitzmann was the starter for the Wingers’ in their season opener Friday against Rochester Lourdes.

“Resiliency, speed, and adaptability to big transition year,” Olson said of her team’s strengths. “(We’re) young but have a strong corps of upper classmen and a positive mindset for this upcoming season to be successful!”

ROSTER

Seniors – F Delaynee Fox, D Emily Hart. Juniors – F Hailey Ehlers, D Margaret Grove. Sophomores – D Geneva Noreen, F Ani Blankenship, F Brianna Beck, D Eliza DiNatale, F Emma Roe, F Scout Copeland. Freshmen – G Jamie Chaska, D Madison Snyder, F Isabell Handwerk, D Amira Ramstad, Ashlyn Hintz, F Annahstasia Campbell, F Amara Smith. Eighth-graders – F Alexis Pauzauskie, F Hannah Thiem, F Allison Roe, G Leigha Kitzmann.

• • •

CENTURY PANTHERS

Head coach: Tom Aney

Assistants: Scott Thorvilson, Luke Hughes

Last season: 4-22-0 overall, 1-16-0 Big Nine Conference.

Top returners: Sr. F Victoria Johnson (15-24—39), Jr. F Elizabeth Oyen (11-9—20), Sr. D Ella Lentz (11-7—18), Sr. G Macy Lund (4-16-0, .802 save pct.).

2018-19 outlook: The Panthers had a tough regular season a year ago, but they gained some confidence by defeating rival John Marshall 2-1 in a Section 1AA first-round playoff game.

All of the key contributors for Century in that playoff victory are back this season. Junior forward Elizabeth Oyen and senior defenseman Ella Lentz scored the Panthers’ goals, and senior goalie Macy Lund made 13 saves in that win.

Century has its top three scorers back from a year ago, led by senior forward Victoria Johnson, who had two assists in the postseason and finished her junior year with 15 goals and 24 assists, for 39 points. Oyen was the team’s second-leading scorer last year (11-9—20) and Lentz was third (11-7—18).

Macy Lund returns to lead the way in net for the Panthers. She backstopped them to all four of their wins last season, finishing with an .802 save percentage. She’ll be joined in goal this year by eighth-grader Abigail Conners.

Century has a talented group of young players joining the varsity roster this season, with eight eighth-graders on the team.

The Panthers will have time to jell as a team, too, as they’ll play 10 of their first 12 games at home. They’ll have a tough post-holiday schedule, as they have just one home game after Christmas, a Jan. 8 matchup against Red Wing.

ROSTER

Seniors – F Lauren Luhman, F Victoria Johnson, F Kylie Lund, D Jenna Miller, D Ella Lentz, G Macy Lund. Juniors – F Elizabeth Oyen, D Megan Andrist. Sophomores – F Audrey Kranebell, F Kieran Witt, F Kasey Klouser, D Katherine Thorvilson. Freshman – Collette Barry. Eighth-graders – F Grace Oyen, F Zoey Manzardo, D Ella Tomminello, F Kailey Birkestrand, F Nina Luke, D Kennedi Bielenberg-Howarth, F Grace Burgess, G Abigail Conners.

SCHEDULE

(RC=Rec Center, GA=Graham Arena)

Nov. 15 — Owatonna (GA)

Nov. 17 — at Northfield

Nov. 20 — Faribault (RC)

Nov. 29 — Mankato West (RC)

Dec. 1 — Minnehaha Academy (GA)

Dec. 6 — at Red Wing

Dec. 8 — Mayo (RC)

Dec. 11 — Northfield (RC)

Dec. 13 — Austin (GA)

Dec. 18 — Waseca (GA)

Dec. 20 — Onalaska (GA)

Dec. 22 — John Marshall (RC)

Dec. 27 — vs. Mankato West*

Dec. 28 — vs. St. Peter*

Dec. 29 — vs. Minnehaha Academy*

Jan. 3 — at Mayo (GA)

Jan. 5 — at Windom Area

Jan. 8 — Red Wing (GA)

Jan. 10 — at Owatonna

Jan. 18 — at Mankato East

Jan. 24 — at Austin

Jan. 26 — at Albert Lea

Jan. 29 — at Faribault

Jan. 31 — at John Marshall (GA)

* – at Minnesota River Invitational (LeSueur)

• • •

JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS

Head coach: Josh Chapman

Assistants: Mia Bruesewitz, Kaycee Neumann, Jake Potoracke

Last season: 7-19-0 overall, 5-13-0 Big Nine.

Top returners: Sr. F Ally Halverson (17-11—28), Jr. F Ashley Koehler (14-4—18), So. F Greta Freed (9-10—19), So. D Josie Nichols (3-7—10), Sr. D Lauren Hugeback (3-5—8), Jr. G Anysia Heimer (5-13-0, 5.46 GAA, .844 save pct.)

2018-19 outlook: John Marshall begins its second season on its own – its co-op agreement with Lourdes ended after the 2016-17 season – with high hopes. The Rockets won seven games a year ago and have a good mix of veteran players and varsity newcomers this season.

JM looks to be strongest on the back end – its defensemen and starting goalie have a good amount of varsity experience.

Junior goalie Anysia Heimer backstopped the Rockets to five of their seven victories a year ago, when she faced more than 32 shots per game, yet had a solid .844 save percentage. She’ll be joined in goal by seventh-grader Emily Hendrickson.

“We will rely a lot on Anysia,” Chapman said. “She has a lot of experience and we’re hoping she has a strong season.”

Lauren Hugeback and Josie Nichols return to lead the defensive corps for JM. That duo combined for 18 points last season, the first varsity seasons with JM for each of them. They’ll be joined by another veteran, senior Mara Dealing, who is returning to play hockey after taking a couple of seasons off. Eighth-grader Alix Gary is also expected to contribute defensively.

“We are hoping one of our strengths this year is our D,” coach Josh Chapman said. “We have Lauren and Josie returning this year. They had great first high school seasons last year. Mara took a couple years off but is back and will help us out back there. Alix Gary is also a good strong D who came to us from playing U12 last year.”

Up front, the Rockets’ top line of Ally Halverson, Ashley Koehler and Greta Freed will once again be expected to provide scoring. Those three led the team in scoring a year ago, combining for 40 goals and 65 points.

“Our top line will be strong for us if they can stay healthy,” Chapman said, “and our second line – Alyssa Kang, Morgan Sammon and Kinsey Torgrimson – will be solid, as well, with all three players being returners.”

ROSTER

Seniors – *F Ally Halverson, D Mara Dealing, *F Morgan Sammon, D Lauren Hugeback. Juniors – F Kinsey Torgrimson, *F Ashley Koehler, G Anysia Heimer. Sophomores – F Alyssa Kang, F Greta Freed, D Josie Nichols, F Katherine Wheeler, F Emmy Mueller. Eighth-graders – F Ava Fevold, D Alix Gary, F Sophie Gilbertson, F Halle Squires, F Hannah Letcher. Seventh-grader – G Emily Hendrickson.

* -- captain

SCHEDULE

(RC=Rec Center, GA=Graham Arena)

Nov. 9 — Woodbury (RC)

Nov. 10 — at Princeton

Nov. 16 — Minneapolis (RC)

Nov. 17 — Austin (RC)

Nov. 21 — vs. Red Wing (at Tria Rink, St. Paul)

Nov. 23 — Hopkins (RC)

Nov. 24 — at Faribault

Dec. 4 — at Mayo (GA)

Dec. 6 — Faribault (RC)

Dec. 8 — at Park Center

Dec. 11 — at Mankato West

Dec. 13 — at Owatonna

Dec. 15 — at Hastings

Dec. 22 — at Century (RC)

Dec. 27 — at Austin Invitational

Dec. 29 — at Austin Invitational

Jan. 3 — Northfield (GA)

Jan. 5 — at Mankato East

Jan. 12 — at Austin

Jan. 17 — at Albert Lea

Jan. 24 — Owatonna (RC)

Jan. 26 — at Simley

Jan. 29 — Mayo (RC)

Jan. 31 — Century (GA)

• • •

LOURDES EAGLES

Head coach: Jeff True

Assistants: Laura Vannelli, Matt Hanzel

Last season: 15-13-0 overall (lost in Section 1A championship game)

Top returners: Jr. F Emma Schmitz (34-22—56), Sr. F Clara Billings (23-10—33), So. D Maggie Hanzel (12-20—32), Jr. F Sarah Dravis (12-16—28), Jr. D Allison Smith (4-10—14), Sr. D Ali Ratzloff (1-11—12), Jr. G Corrin Hanson (8-6-0, 3.00 GAA, .876 save pct.).

2018-19 outlook: The Eagles have high expectations this season after reaching the Section 1A championship game a year ago, where they fell to powerful Red Wing. The Wingers graduated a handful of talented seniors, including 2018 Miss Hockey winner Taylor Heise, who’s now at the University of Minnesota. The Wingers losses, coupled with the Eagles’ talented returners, should make Lourdes a favorite to reach the state tournament.

Lourdes lost a pair of talented players to graduation, goalie Claire Brunn and defenseman Lindsey Angst, but it has 10 of its top 11 scorers back. Those 10 players accounted for 88 percent of Lourdes goals and 86 percent of its points.

That group of returners is led by junior forward Emma Schmitz, who led the Eagles in goals (34), assists (22) and points (56), and was named honorable mention All-State last season. She’s joined at forward by other top returners, senior Clara Billings (23-10—33) and Sarah Dravis (12-16—28).

The Eagles may be their strongest on the blue line, where a pair of Division I commits reside. That group includes junior Allison Smith (4-10—14), who has committed to play at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. Sophomore Maggie Hanzel led Lourdes’ defensemen in scoring last season (32 points). She also led all freshmen defensemen in the state in scoring last year, is committed to Boston University and was selected for the USA Hockey HP 16 national development camp over the summer. Seniors Paige McPeak and Ali Ratzloff are also back on defense after strong junior seasons.

In goal, Hanson is expected to fill the skates of Claire Brunn, who started 13 games last year, including both playoff games. Hanson went 8-6-0 in the regular season, with a 3.00 goals-against average and .876 save percentage.

“We have high expectations to get to another section championship in our second year as a program,” coach Jeff True said. “We face some of the best teams and players in the state to help prepare us for the section tournament. Teams like Faribault and Red Wing are very well-coached and have strong returning players, which will make for a competitive section.”

ROSTER

Seniors – D Ali Ratzloff, F Natalie Kielty, D Paige McPeak, F Clara Billings, D Victoria Dettinger. Juniors – F Emma Schmitz, D Allison Smith, F Sarah Dravis, F Kylie VerNess, F Isabelle Heim, G Corrin Hanson. Sophomores – F Carmen Erickson, D Maggie Hanzel, F Paige Gallaugher, F Abby Wick, D Autumn Arcand. Freshmen – F Elizabeth Arendt, F Lizzie Pike. Eighth-grader – F Delaney Fleming. Seventh-grader – G Kiley Buer.

SCHEDULE

(Home games at Graham Arena)

Nov. 9 — at Red Wing

Nov. 13 — at New Ulm

Nov. 15 — at Eden Prairie

Nov. 17 — Minneapolis

Nov. 20 — Mahtomedi

Nov. 24 — Hopkins

Nov. 27 — at New Prague

Nov. 29 — at Simley

Dec. 1 — Albert Lea

Dec. 4 — White Bear Lake

Dec. 8 — at Benilde-St. Margaret’s

Dec. 14 — St. Paul Academy & Summit

Dec. 20 — Red Wing

Dec. 22 — at Eagan

Jan. 5 — at Totino-Grace

Jan. 11 — at Stillwater

Jan. 19 — South St. Paul

Jan. 22 — at Faribault

Jan. 25 — at East Grand Forks

Jan. 26 — at Warroad

Jan. 29 — at Holy Angels

Feb. 2 — at Wayzata

• • •

MAYO SPARTANS

Head coach: Mike McCormack

Assistants: Keegan Hakala, Brad Berge, Nicole Root, Case Hanson, Jessi Johnston

Last season: 20-5-0 overall, 14-4-0 Big Nine Conference.

Top returners: So. F Devynn Priest (14-15—29), So. D Luella Bianco (1-9—10), Sr. D Alexa Hruska (1-7—8).

2018-19 outlook: The Spartans lost five of their top six scorers, all of whom put up big points last season, but they hope to make up for that with a strong defensive corps and goaltending. Those five high-scoring, graduated players – Brooke Leone, Megan Adair, Eryn Fjelsted, Maddi Lutz and Maeve Cameron – combined for 194 points.

Sophomore Devynn Priest returns to lead the way up front. She had 14 goals and 29 points last season as a freshman, after leading the Spartans with 17 goals and 41 points as an eighth-grader. The two-time All-Big Nine Conference forward enters her third varsity season with 31 career goals and 70 points.

In goal, senior Makayla Pahl will step in to anchor the Spartans. Pahl, a University of Minnesota commit, played last season with the Mayo boys team, but will backstop the girls team this year. She was also a member of the gold-medal winning Team USA at the Under-18 Women’s World Championships in Russia.

Pahl will have an experienced defensive corps in front of her, led by varsity veterans Alexa Hruska (senior), Luella Bianco (sophomore) and Maggie Augeson (sophomore). Seventh-grader Layla Rippentrop will join that group, too, adding size and offensive potential to the Spartans’ blue line.

“We have a lot of young players who will very quickly need to understand the speed and strength required to consistently compete at the varsity level,” coach Mike McCormack said.

ROSTER

Seniors – F Payton Butterfield, D Alexa Hruska, G Makayla Pahl. Juniors – F Holly Boesch, F Haley Handelman, F Holly Janosik, F Nakya Renn. Sophomores – D Maggie Augeson, D Luella Bianco, D Jasmin Gieke, G Katherine Holmen, F Rioghnna Pittock, F Devynn Priest. Freshmen – F Molly Adair, F Abigail Jacobson, G Chloe Rupprecht, F Milla Sadowy. Eighth-graders – F Camberly Tripp, D Ella Dozois, F Megan Lutz, F Jorden Ruskell, F Isabel Wright. Seventh-grader – D Layla Rippentrop.

SCHEDULE

(RC=Rec Center, GA=Graham Arena)

Nov. 10 — Mankato East (GA)

Nov. 16 — at Hudson

Nov. 17 — at Owatonna

Nov. 27 — at Albert Lea

Nov. 29 — Waconia (RC)

Dec. 4 — John Marshall (GA)

Dec. 6 — at Mankato West

Dec. 8 — at Century (RC)

Dec. 13 — Northfield (GA)

Dec. 15 — at Red Wing

Dec. 18 — at Austin

Dec. 20 — Windom Area (GA)

Dec. 27 — Austin Invitational

Dec. 28 — Austin Invitational

Dec. 29 — Austin Invitational

Jan. 3 — Century (GA)

Jan. 4 — at Princeton

Jan. 8 — Onalaska (GA)

Jan. 12 — Owatonna (GA)

Jan. 19 — Red Wing (RC)

Jan. 24 — at Northfield

Jan. 26 — at Faribault

Jan. 29 — at John Marshall (RC)

Jan. 31 — Austin (GA)

— JASON FELDMAN

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