Girls’ hockey looks to make it past rival Minnetonka


Abbey Miller has been a key component to the Red Knights success throughout her career.

For the Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls’ hockey team, goals, wins, saves and shutouts have all been plentiful over the last three years. The senior class of 2014 has enjoyed a number of accomplishments stemming from conference titles and scoring records to individual honors and college commitments. There is one title, however, that has managed to elude this group of seniors for all their years at years at Benilde.

Spectacular regular seasons consisting of 22, 22 and 24 wins the past three seasons have all resulted in heartbreaking defeats at the hands of the Minnetonka Skippers in the section 6AA finals.

This year, the task looks as daunting as ever. Equipped with arguably the best roster in the state, the Red Knights (Led by 6 Division-1 commits), will look to their seniors to help them navigate through section 6AA and earn their first state tournament berth since 2008.

The clock read 15:00 at Parade Ice Gardens in Minneapolis. The date was February 15, 2013 and only 15 minutes separated the Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls’ hockey team from returning to the state tournament. They held a commanding 2-0 lead and had been in control of the game since the first drop of the puck. Suddenly, like deja vu, the Red Knights were forced to watch as their state tournament dreams dissolved before their eyes for the third straight season. Minnetonka scored three unanswered goals to win the game 3-2 before they went on to win the state tournament for the third consecutive year. “It was as frustrating as you expect and more. But it has served as our main source of motivation” said senior Brittany Wheeler.

Entering into this years section 6AA tournament, the script is guaranteed to be at least a little different. With the Red Knights and Skippers receiving the 2 and 3 seeds respectively, only one of them will be able to reach the section title game. The Red Knights know that they will need to be at the top of their game in order to advance out of their section which contains three of the top four teams in the state. “We will need to work as a team and not have the mentality that we need to do it ourselves” Wheeler said.

Most importantly, we want to leave Benilde with the legacy of being State champions.

— Brittany Wheeler

Although it will certainly be a challenge, the Red Knights are as good as ever; led by a top forward line that consists of three division one commits in Brittany Wheeler (Yale) and Ms. Hockey finalists Kelly Pannek (Minnesota) and Caitlin Reilly (Penn State). To go along with the the prolific offense, the Red Knights also boast one of the state’s top goaltenders in Senior Abbey Miller (Syracuse), who was recently named a finalist for the Ms. Goalie award, annually given to Minnesota’s best senior female goalie. Kaylee Druk (Syracuse) and Ali Praus (New Hampshire) anchor the second line and have been outstanding two way forwards for the Red Knights since their freshman years.

The girls will open their tournament against North Metro on Saturday, February 8th and plan on making this playoff run a once in a lifetime experience. “It would mean a lot to us seniors to be able to prove to everyone that our team is capable of making it to state. Most importantly, we want to leave Benilde with the legacy of being State champions.” said Wheeler.