Girls’ hockey depends on underclassmen this season

Girls' hockey depends on underclassmen this season

Photo courtesy of Mark Lex

The girls’ hockey team hopes solid leadership and dependable underclassmen will give them an advantage for a successful season.

Peter Best, Staff Writer

Hockey season is back again and the BSM girls’ varsity team is looking to continue their dominance of the North Suburban Conference. With a bevy of under-class talent and a solid core of upperclass leadership, the team seems prepared to contend with Minnetonka for the section championship.

After a monumental regular season last year, the squad ended up losing to Minnetonka in the section 6AA championship. “We don’t like to lose. The bottom line is nobody likes to lose, and to see the girls so disappointed because they worked so hard last year was tough,” said Mr. Dave Herbst, Head Coach.

The coaching staff wants to pick up where the team left off last season, hoping to make another run at state. “The number one [goal] is to win the state tournament,” said Mr. Herbst. “We want to be the top team in our section.”

Further adding to the team’s hopes for success is the core of young sophomores on the team, which accounted for 83 of the team’s 124 goals last season. The team is counting on players such as Caitlin Reilly and Kelly Pannek to help lead BSM’s offense. “Those are the high end kids; their skill is very good,” said Mr. Herbst

Being prepared for a grueling season, however, starts in the offseason, before the next year’s roster is even set. “We…talked about what [players] wanted to do over the summertime, and what we needed to do over the summertime to be on the team and everything. And everyone really worked hard over the summer and I can really see it,” said Mr. Herbst.

“I told the kids that if you’re shooting 100 pucks, shoot 200. If you’re lifting weights 2 times a week, you better lift probably 3 or 4 times. Everything you’re doing before, you gotta up the ante and just get better.”

The players did indeed take the constructive criticism to heart and are positive the hard work will pay off during the current season. “I know everyone worked extremely hard during the offseason and we have a very skilled group of girls,” said junior captain Sara Taffe.

The team is not only dedicated, but have also developed a sharp chemistry. They are willing to work with one another to make the team and themselves better. “When your teammate does well, it pushes you do well too, because you want to work just as hard for them. We also can learn from each other, because we all bring different kinds of talent to the team,” said junior forward Anne Arnason.

The players and coaches are both confident that they’ve got a team with enough skill to win the championship. “We’re physical, we can skate, we move the puck. So everything I’ve seen right now looks good,” said Mr. Herbst.

Taking the reigns in the net and occupying the crease this year will be sophomore Abbey Miller, who is entering her first year as the starter. “Abbey just sat back and soaked it all up,” said Coach Herbst of Abbey as the backup last year. “Now she’s in the limelight. It’s her job, and I think she’s going to do a great job with it.”

Another factor helping both the offense and the defense is the varsity team’s success on special teams. Last season the powerplay was at 30.77 percent, and the penalty kill was an amazing 90.67 percent. “We take great pride in our powerplay and penalty kill,” said Mr. Herbst.

Leadership on the team has also been a huge factor, and the coaches have done a good job of choosing players with high levels of skill and character. This year is no different as defenseman Sara Taffe has been honored with the captaincy. “Sara Taffe is just a really good leader…and the kids listen to her,” said Mr. Herbst.

Coach Herbst has won at least 20 games in each season as Head Coach of the girls’ team, instilling confidence and pride. “We are one of the top teams in the state and we will have some tough games this year which should be really fun,” said sophomore forward Kelly Pannek.

In the preseason state rankings, the girls are ranked at #2 in Class 2A, instilling the team with both confidence and pressure. “It is exciting to be ranked so highly, but every game we play there will be a big target on our backs. While it’s an honor to be ranked that high at the beginning of the year, our goal is to be ranked high at the end of the season when it really matters,” said Taffe.

With passion and a hunger for a championship, the team should be exciting to watch this season. “We are going to be harder working than last year and not afraid to get the dirtier goals and crash the net,“ said Pannek. “Our team should have a promising year that will hopefully lead to the state tournament and I know we would all appreciate the fans support.”