BY DAVE PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
The Bison girls hockey team involving players from Rockford, Delano and Buffalo open the season 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14 against the North Metro Stars at Buffalo Arena.
Coming off the best season in program history where the team upset a few top ranked teams, the Bison have some big skates to fill. Coach Ray Dahlof says he must replace three starting defenders, two forwards and the goalie.
Gone is all-time scoring leader Katie Rooney and goalie Lindsey Hartfiel, who was a top five finalist for senior goalie of the year. Hartfiel stopped 49 shots in the 5-1 loss to state power Minnetonka in the Section 6AA semifinals.
The team won a share of the Mississippi 8 conference title, won a program record 20 games and finished the season ranked eighth in the state. A major accomplishment was in defeating the No. 1 ranked teams in both Class AA and A, as well as beating five other top 10 teams.
“Our top returning players are forwards, Lindsay Roethke, Abby Halluska, Madi Jewell and Ashley Effertz, plus defenders Allison Roethke and Kirsten Olson,” said Dahlof.
Top newcomers include goalie Kendra Carlson, who played for the junior varsity last year, defenders Paige Blizil, Ali Klein and Shyanne Lambrecht, plus forwards, Rylan Bistodeau, Taylor Thompson, Rachel Stendahl and Ciara Prodahl.
“We should contend for the Mississippi 8 conference title with North Wright County and we move into Section 8AA where we should contend with Roseau,” adds the coach. “We feel this team has good speed and should develop into a strong team after a tough November and December schedule.”
In Section 6AA, the Bison lost in the playoffs the past three seasons to Minnetonka, a multiple state champion in recent years. The section included other top teams from the metro area. The new section should be easier but involves teams in northern Minnesota’s “hockey country.”
The Bison play in Isanti against a team that combines the schools of Cambridge/Isanti, Mora and Pine City, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.