Girls’ hockey team hopes to come together in a make-or-break season

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Carson Mark

The girls’ hockey team has been working hard to prove that this is finally their year.

Arthur Boyle, Staff Writer

It’s time to go for it. This year, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls’ hockey team has the potential to achieve the goals that have loomed before them in years past.

They’ve always been talented, winning 42 out of 46 regular season games the past two seasons, but sometimes talent doesn’t translate directly into success. “Last year, the biggest knock was that we weren’t able to win big games,” Head Coach Mr. Dave Herbst said.

The girls took that into consideration at the end of last season. After their last game, an overtime loss to Minnetonka in the section finals, Herbst met with the players to reinforce the importance of off-season workouts and to address strengths and weaknesses that each player could work on.

With their preparation and current pool of talent, the Red Knights have an opportunity to overcome their old weakness. “This is my seventh year coaching and this is the deepest we’ve ever been,” Herbst said.

The 9-1 destruction of Shakopee at the start of this season showed the team took its off-season mission to heart. Shakopee was easily beaten, and while not exactly the toughest match-up on their schedule, the team built up its confidence early by starting the season with a win. “It’s a really good way to start off the year,” senior forward Anne Arnason said.

“We showed good finishing potential and were moving the puck well, but still have a few things to work on in the defensive zone.”

Team chemistry is another part of any successful team, and this year’s girls have a team that would make Mr. Lex proud. The majority of the team has been together for three years, and with the return of key starters like junior forwards Caitlin Reilly and Kelly Pannek, there will be a huge advantage in their play. Coordination, familiarity, and knowing your teammates extremely well makes all the difference in a close match up.

The team really showed their potential at the Edina Cake-Eater Tournament in late November. The team played strong during both of their games, getting points on the board while staying defensively sound. “It was our best game yet,” said Pannek, a captain, talking about the team’s

matchup against Breck. “We came together as a team. The score might not show it, but the beginning was really a challenge.”

The Red Knights won the tournament, and proved to themselves and everyone else they can perform under pressure. “We kept it simple, which is what we need to win. We brought the puck to the net, hard, and left out the theatrics,” Pannek said.

“We want to make it to the state tournament,” senior captain Sara Taffe said, referring to a goal shared by the entire team.

The same goal is shared by Minnetonka, the section rivals who cut the Red Knights’ goals short for the last two years. However, the team is looking past those losses and towards the future. “I think we can win the whole thing. If we make it past our section, nothing can stop us,” Pannek said.

“Defensively I’d like the whole team to become stronger. We have such a powerful offense it’d really benefit the team to be able to complement that,” Taffe said.

Girls’ hockey has been working hard, and hard work pays off. Judging by their success already this season, the Red Knights are ready to collect.