PREP GIRLS' HOCKEY: Cardinals sink EaglesWINDOM — The Luverne girls’ hockey team lost a bulk of its offensive capacity in the offseason. However, the Cardinals had no problems with its offense in its season-opener, easily defeating Windom Area 13-0 on Thursday night.
WINDOM — The Luverne girls’ hockey team lost a bulk of its offensive capacity in the offseason.
However, the Cardinals had no problems with its offense in its season-opener, easily defeating Windom Area 13-0 on Thursday night.
“We did really good, but our firepower is really down compared to last year,” Luverne co-head coach Dave Siebenahler said. “We lost about 75 goals that we got from three players last year, so we’re going to do a lot of rebuilding.”
Despite the outburst of goals, including hat-tricks by Alizabeth Goldie and Makayla Sterrett, Siebenahler still considers his team’s defense to be its greatest asset.
“That’s going to be our strength all year, and that’s what we’re going to be relying on all year is our goalie and our defense,” Siebenahler said.
On the other side of the puck, the Eagles were dealt another set-back in what has already been a trying first week of the season.
Senior co-captain Shelby Veenker hit the ice hard with just under two minutes to play, and was carried off with a possible concussion, adding to a list of other setbacks the team has faced.
“We’re kind of struggling a little bit,” said Windom Area head coach Shawn Veenker, who is also Shelby Veenker’s uncle. “We have three of our top players that aren’t playing the first two games of the season. We’re trying to fit in players as much as we can. We’ve got some inexperienced players, and they’re getting a good opportunity to get experience, but when they’re young you’ve got a learning curve.”
The difference between the current state of the two teams was laid bare by the statistics in Thursday’s game — the Cardinals amassed 43 shots on goal, compared to six by the Eagles.
Luverne’s performance was a good first test for a lineup that hasn’t had much experience playing together.
“We’ve got to learn how each other play,” said junior Alyssa Frakes, who scored two goals and had an assist. “We’ve never really played with each other because we’ve got so many young girls. That’s going to be one of our main challenges.”
A positive sign for the Cardinals was that four of their goals came from a pair of seventh graders making their varsity debut, Sterrett and Kennedy Gonnerman.
Gonnerman scored just under four minutes into the first period, staking Luverne to an early 2-0 lead.
While LHS continues to discover how its offense will shape up with its new additions, the defense has maintained a veteran presence, anchored by senior goalie Autumn Wenzel.
“We’ve got all of our defense back, and I bond with all the defense pretty well from last year, and this year it seems to be improving, so that’s a good thing,” Wenzel said.
In spite of the confidence the Cardinals have in their defense, they went through large stretches where their sustained offensive barrages gave their defense a rest.
After taking a 3-0 lead into the first break, LHS was effective in keeping the puck at its offensive end in the second period, netting nine goals in period and only conceding one shot on goal.
Windom Area falls to 0-2 after a loss in their opener against St. Peter /LeSueur-Henderson.
The Eagles are a team that also needs to adjust to a new lineup, including a number of new players.
“We have a lot of new girls, and it’s hard to get the new girls to know the game,” junior captain Josie Higley said. “Some can’t even skate, and we’ll teach them the best we can, and try everything we can. It’s hard.”
The absence of a pair of key veteran players over the first two games has exaggerated the team’s lack of experience, but both players should be back by the end of the month.
“It should help, because they’ve both played hockey before and they know the game,” Higley said in reference to the return of the team’s missing players.
Coach Veenker feels that his team’s growing pains will eventually sort themselves out over the course of the season, and is confident that the team’s early season performance isn’t a sign of things to come.
“I do know that we’ll be a different team at the end of the year than we are right now,” Veenker said. “We’ve just to get through this learning curve and get some of our players back, and hopefully with a lot more hard work in practice we should be ok.”
The Cardinals are taking their first win as a confidence booster, but are maintaining a modest outlook for the season ahead.
“Our motto is ‘Challenge,’ so our goal is to get as far as we can as a team and do the best we can throughout the season,” Wenzel said.
LHS 3 9 1 — 13
WA 0 0 0 — 0