Koltes praises Rebels’ effort
by JOHN SHERMAN
Sun sailor Newspapers
To say that the Hopkins High girls hockey team is in mid-season form might be an understatement, considering how well the Royals have skated in their first two outings of the 2013-14 season.
But even after wins over North Metro (8-0) and Champlin Park (4-1), Hopkins head coach Vin Paolucci is keeping things in perspective.
“We’ve got to get better,” said Paolucci. “The season is a process of improvement. The way I look at it, we’re always asking, ‘Are we getting better day by day?’ We have a very tough schedule, and we have to come ready to play.”
In the season opener against North Metro Nov. 7 at Brooklyn Park Arena, the Royals came out flying and scored four goals in the first period. Grace Bizal had three of them and Nina Rodgers had one goal.
The second period was very similar to the first as Hopkins scored three more goals. Jillaine DeYoung got the first one, and then Rachael St. Clair scored. Goals by Stephanie Sween and Hope Docter followed.
Senior Erin O’Neill had a relatively relaxed evening in the Hopkins goal with 10 saves. Hopkins had 41 shots on net.
In a Saturday matinee against Champlin Park Nov. 9, the Royals were tested by one of the top squads in the metro area.
A goal by Corbin Boyd gave Hopkins a lead in the first period. Then teammates Bizal and Stella Haberman scored. Champlin Park made it closer on a goal by Abbey Dokken, and the period ended 3-1.
In the third period Hopkins surged offensively and Boyd netted her second goal of the afternoon.
“Corbin is a wonderful hockey player,” said Paolucci. “She might be the best decision-maker in the state.”
O’Neill played a strong game in goal, stopping 24 of Champlin Park’s 25 shots.
“Champlin Park is a well-coached, hard-working hockey team,” said Paolucci. “There are a lot of good teams out there with a lot of really good players. The bottom line is that we have to be a well-balanced team. We can’t rely on just one player or one line.”
Champlin Park head coach Jim Koltes was happy with his team’s effort even though Hopkins skated away with the win.
“Hopkins definitely has a ton of speed and talent,” he said after the game. “Our kids put forth a solid effort today. We’ll be right there with some of the top teams, and I think we can be very competitive in our section.”
The Rebels played Hopkins without their No. 1 goalie, Hannah Goettl, who was the starter last season. Senior Maddy Voss stepped in and played a solid game with 34 saves.
“All of our lines played well,” said Koltes. Maggie Cragg’s line was solid and so was Kaleigh Martinson’s line. Our third line, with Kaylee Wood centering, stepped up and had a good day. I am excited with our depth.”
Koltes said one strategy that worked pretty well against Hopkins was chipping the puck out of the zone. The Rebels have developed a knack for clearing the puck out of their end without ever icing it. That technique took Hopkins out of rhythm in the second period.
Hopkins will be back in action in a non-conference game against Eastview at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Apple Valley High School’s Sports Arena.
Champlin Park’s next game will be its Northwest Suburban Conference home opener against Anoka at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.
Contact John Sherman at [email protected]