By Bob San
The Maple Grove girls’ hockey team is very young in terms of age, but the coaching staff is optimistic the Crimson can develop into a competitive bunch as the season progresses.
The Crimson return a lot of varsity experience with seven forwards and two defensemen, but senior forward and captain Maddie Woo is the only senior varsity regular. The other captains are senior forward Lexy McGauvran, senior defense Rebecca Cohn and junior forward Summer Thibodeau.
The Crimson will try to improve on last year’s 15-11-1 record but will have to do so playing a tough schedule. The top teams in the conference are Andover, Blaine and Anoka. In the section they will have to contend with Minnetonka and Benilde-St. Margaret.
“We expect to be competitive in a very tough and well balanced conference from top to bottom,” assistant coach Joey Olson said. “We have one senior in our varsity lineup and are young in the net and on defense. The group is young, but is learning fast. If the girls continue to work hard, we will be a tough opponent come section time.”
The Crimson won one and lost one at the Maple Grove Invitational last weekend. They lost to Duluth 3-2 in overtime in the opener and routed Onalaska, Wis., 12-3 in the third place game.
Thibodeau led the scoring explosion against Onalaska with four goals, Katie Josephson added three goals, Olivia Rosenow two and Woo, Paige Naasko, Payton Olson each had one goal. Hailey Herdine picked up four assists. Breanna Blesi made 16 saves for the win.
Thibodeau and Hailey Hadtrath were the goal scorers against Duluth but Maple Grove could not hold and 2-1 third period lead. Duluth tied it late in the third and won with a goal 3:30 into sudden death overtime. Whitney Padgett had 25 saves for Maple Grove.
The Crimson opened the season with a scrimmage fest in Duluth.
“The trip was good way to gauge where the team was at, as well as a great team bonding opportunity,” Olson said.
Maple Grove lost the season-opener 2-1 to Eden Prairie Nov. 11. Woo gave MG a 1-0 lead in the second period assisted by Josephson. Midway though the third Eden Prairie tied the game then scored the winning goal with 13 seconds to go.
Blesi stopped all 31 shots to help Maple Grove earn a 0-0 tie at Centennial Nov. 13.
The Crimson won a 3-2 overtime thriller against Coon Rapids Nov. 17. Abby Larson scored 5 minutes into sudden death with an assist from Woo to win it. Herdine and Woo scored the other two MG goals.
MG lost to Andover 4-1 Nov. 20. Lexy Dorosh scored the lone goal with assist from Woo. Blesi made 37 saves.
The Crimson next host North Metro Saturday, Dec. 1.