BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Adding some good depth to returning offensive firepower and a proven goalie gives reason for optimism for the area girls hockey team.
The Bison includes players from Delano, Rockford and Buffalo. The first game is 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 against North Metro at the Brooklyn Park Arena.
“We have high expectations for this year’s team,” said coach Ray Dahlof. “We will be strong at the forward position with five of our top six scorers returning. We have four solid defenders and a solid returning goalie.”
The team hopes to build upon success the past few seasons. Last year the Bison lost to two-time defending state champion Minnetonka 3-0 in the semifinals of the Section 6AA tournament. An empty net goal broke open a close game.
Scoring close to 100 goals on the season last year, the Bison finished with a 13-10-3 record.
The top returning seniors are forwards, Katie Rooney and Sam Noetzelman, defenders Emily Varner, Katie Vatnsdal and MacKenzie Rixe, plus goalie Lindsey Hartfiel.
Rooney has powered the offense in recent years, scoring 55 points to lead the charge last season, notching 30 goals in the regular season. Rooney has accepted a full scholarship to play hockey at RPI next season.
Junior forward Lindsay Roethke was second with 44 points on 18 goals and 25 assists before the playoffs. Also returning to varsity is sophomore forward Ashley Effertz and ninth-grader Allison Roethke on defense.
Also on varsity are junior forward Sydney Martichuski, sophomore forwards Kirsten Olson, Madi Jewell, and Emily Wiegand, plus ninth-grader Abby Halluska.
“We will have great overall top speed and good depth,” adds Dahlof. “The top teams in the Mississippi 8 conference should be North Wright County and us. Top teams in Section 6AA will be Minnetonka and Benilde-St. Margaret’s.”
The Bison play many of the top teams in Class AA and Class A this season. Dahlof added a trip up north Jan. 18-19 to face top ranked Class A power Warroad Friday and Thief River Falls Saturday.
The Bison tournament is Nov. 23-24, facing Fort Frances at 8 p.m. Friday and Totino-Grace, 2:30 p.m. Saturday.