Minnesota River Bulldogs Girls Hockey
Head coach Tom Blaido, 8th year; assistant coaches Dave Swanberg, 2nd year with girls, 20th year overall; Tor Sinell, 5th year;Madison Bergren, 1st year
Tri-captains, senior center Keely Olness, senior defender Ella Boomgaarden and junior wing Nicole McCabe. "We have a solid core of players returning to support this trio which makes us very optimistic about the upcoming season, of the rostered 32 players 17 are returning letter winners including all conference winner Keely Olness," Blaido said
"This year's Lady Bulldog team will feature a lot of scoring punch throughout the first three lines which include Olness, 28 points last season, McCabe, 24 points last season, and sophomore Anna Pavlo, 21 points a year ago. Along with those three we are expecting to light the lamp often with the offensive talents of some of our younger upcoming stars such as Emma Seaver, Adrianna Bixby, Angel Mass, Darbi Dunning and Sophia Doherty.
"The defense is a little on the younger side, however it is anchored by Boomgaarden along with junior Mary Rella. What the defense lacks in experience they more than make up for it with 'hockey smarts.' Our defensive units are a very tenacious bunch that loves to get after it and shows no fear in the corners or around the net; if you like physical hockey watching this defensive unit will be worth the price of admission."
Senior goalie Madi Kisor also returns for her second year starting between the pipes.
KEEP AN EYE ON
"We have a large talent pool of players that moved up to the high school level this year that will be heard from in the near future," Blaido said. "One of these players that has already caught all the coaches eyes is 8th grader Makenna Mueller. "Mak" is making her presence known already with her speedy aggressive attacks in the offensive zone and how quickly she has been able to pick up on a new system; we are expecting some big numbers from her in the upcoming years."
"Graduation from last season's team left some large holes to fill," Blaido said. "We graduated two forwards and two defense. At forward we lost speedster Kylie Dunning and the always aggressive Hal Overgaard and on defense we lost super fast Elle Seaver and the always dangerous all-conference award winner Whitney Weick."
2019-20 SEASON OUTLOOK
Last season, the Bulldogs finished 8-16-1 overall and lost in the first round of the Section 2A playoffs to Hutchinson 9-1. The Bulldogs placed fifth in the Big South Conference at 6-7-1.
"I believe the key to success for this team will be how well we control the puck up front to alleviate some of the pressure off our defense and goalies," Blaido said. "The more we control the puck up front and reduce our unforced turnovers the less time we will spend on our heals playing defense and clearing shots. We've spent several practices working on a faster break and a more aggressive forecheck, I believe improvement in those two areas will be key if this team is to contend for the conference championship.
"This season looks promising, however we will have to avoid the bugs that always seem to pester us each year such as illness and injury. We have a lot of talent on this year's squad, and we have the potential to be a very dangerous team if we can keep all of our pieces in place. I do expect this team to compete for the conference title but that will certainly require us to improve weekly as the season progresses.
"Girls hockey in the Big South Conference is becoming more and more competitive. Luverne looks like the team to beat with Minnesota River and New Ulm close on their heals. Worthington and Waseca will also be solid contenders for conference titles as well as both squads have the talent to run with almost anyone."
BY THE NUMBERS
4 — Seniors
6 — Juniors
7 — Sophomores
2 — Freshmen
1 — Eighth-grader