Girls hockey enters playoffs with reason to be confident
Hartfiel named finalist as top senior goalie
by DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS Newspapers
The field contending for top honors in the Section 6AA girls hockey tournament could be stronger than the eventual slate of teams qualifying for the upcoming state tournament because several of the better squads will not make it there.
It is unfortunate that only one of the top two ranked teams in AA are in the same section. That means it is really bad news for the other ranked teams in the section in what can be called a mini state tourney.
The Bison area girls hockey team may not be as intimidated by the task after defeating the No. 1 team in both Class AA and A this season, along with others in the top 10.
Having a banner season, the team that includes players from Delano, Rockford and Buffalo, was given the No. 4 seed. The first game is against No. 5 seed Wayzata, 2:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis.
Two-time defending state champ Minnetonka is the No. 1 section seed, but is ranked second in the state behind Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the No. 2 section seed. The teams split two games earlier. Hopkins, ranked No. 7 in the state, is the third seed and Wayzata is ranked 11th in the state.
The ninth-ranked Bison finished the regular season 19-6 overall and 6-1 in the Mississippi 8 Conference. The league co-champions had 19 regular season wins, the most in program history. The team is ranked fifth in AA in a pole that involves strength of schedule. Playing A teams, the Bison defeated teams ranked No. 1, 5, 6 and 10.
“In our section having a dependable goalie is a key to any team, but especially for us,” said coach Ray Dahlof about senior Lindsey Hartfiel. “She has the ability to shut down teams and keep us in close games. The longer we hang with those top teams, the better chance we have of scoring some goals and put us in a position to win.”
Hartfiel is 18-6 when in goal, posting a 1.90 goals against average and save percentage of .924 to go with four shutouts. She limited both BSM and Warroad, ranked No. 1 in their class at the time, to just one goal in victories.
“Lindsey has been effective challenging shooters and staying focused,” adds Dahlof. “She has played well against the top teams this year and helped us pull off some big upsets.”
The highlight so far this season for Hartfiel came when defeating No. 1 BSM and No. 3 Eden Prairie in back to back games. Winning in Warroad was also special.
“I think those teams under estimated us,” said Hartfiel about overtaking two No. 1 teams. “Scoring first helped us gain confidence and momentum. It put us on the radar that we are a top team and nobody can take us lightly.”
Hartfiel, who became the regular Bison varsity goalie last season, adds “The key to beating the top teams is our chemistry, plus having a lot of young talent come with grit and a willingness to work hard.”
One example is sophomore forward Madi Jewell, who scored two shorthanded goals in one game to spark a comeback victory. Hartfiel adds, “Madi earned her spot on the penalty kill.”
Hartfiel, who is a finalist for top senior goalie in the state, has risen to most challenges this year, including when playing short-handed more often than coach Dahlof would like.
“It pumps the adrenaline and makes us work harder,” adds Hartfiel about playing shorthanded. “The downfall is we get more tired. I believe getting a couple intense minutes will keep you more focused and in the game.”
Starting out as a good skater in the youth ranks, Hartfiel switched to goalie because she did not like being hit when playing in the boys checking league. Playing for the Bison JV for two years was hard to do, but may have been motivating in the long run.
“Once I got the chance, I really wanted to win those games,” says Hartfiel about the past two seasons. “I think good skating skills makes for a good goalie, plus you have to be mentally tough to handle the penalty kills and all the ups and downs in a game.”
Hartfiel says the defense is stronger and she has not had to make as many saves as last year when she stopped a school record 726 shots compared to about 600 this year. Plus, “having fewer saves means our offense is at the other end more.”
In the offseason, Hartfiel played soccer and lifted weights six days a week. She also played for a Roseville summer hockey team with players who placed second at state last season. She was called to help other teams at tournaments when short a goalie.
A victory over Wayzata would put the Bison against Minnetonka in the semifinals, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at Parade Ice Garden. The title game is 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.
The Bison defeated Wayzata this season and had a good game against Minnetonka, competing for two periods before breaking down in the third. Hartfiel adds her team can beat anybody if it plays hard for three full periods.
One drawback is playing without senior defender Katie Vatnsdahl, who suffered a concussion. Hartfiel says the team is motivated to “win it for Katie.”
Next season Hartfiel will play college hockey at the St. Scholastica in Duluth.
In the playoffs, the Bison offense will be led by senior Katie Rooney, who has 37 goals and 26 assists for 63 points. She netted a three-goal hat trick in the 4-2 win over Maple Grove to end the regular season Saturday. Ninth-grader Abby Halluska scored the other Bison goal.
The top forward line in the playoffs will be Rooney with Jewell and junior Lindsay Roethke. Sophomore Kirsten Olson skates with Halluska and sophomore Emily Wiegand on the second line.
Defenders are seniors Emily Varner and Mackenzie Rixe, sophomore Ashley Effertz and ninth-grader Allison Roethke. Rotating in will be senior forwards Sam Noetzelman and Sydney Martichuski.
Earlier last week the Bison secured a tie for the league title with a 6-2 victory over Princeton. Lindsay Roethke and Rooney both netted two goals each, with one from Olson and Allison Roethke.
The Delano-Rockford boys hockey team tied Waconia 2-2 and lost 6-3 to Princeton last week.
Sophomore goalie Brett Norling made 29 saves against Waconia where goals were netted by Mike Krueger and Nick Pogue.
Princeton scored four third-period goals to take the lead and the win. Power play opportunities were 7-0 in favor of Princeton. Goalie Aaron Grangroth made 36 saves. Goals were by Adam McLain, Krueger and Eric Ylitalo.
Delano-Rockford has home games against Mound-Westonka Friday, Feb. 8 and against Litchfield Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Contact Dave Pedersen at email@example.com