by MATTHEW DAVIS
When Champlin Park and Anoka face each other on the ice, the two rivals always have plenty at stake.
“We love playing them,” Rebels senior forward Sydney Peluf said.
In Saturday’s match up, the Rebels and Tornadoes will both look to better themselves in the Northwest Suburban Conference. They have 4-6 and 3-5-1 records respectively. Section seeding also comes into play when the two meet.
Revenge does too since the Rebels eliminated the Tornadoes 4-1 last season in the Section 5AA tournament. However, the Tornadoes have had the Rebels’ number in their first two meetings of this season.
The Tornadoes won their first meeting of the season on Nov. 16 when the Tornadoes won 4-1. Rebels players had been in and out of practice all week prior to the game because of the flu. A healthy team alone may make a difference.
“We match up with them so well because we know their top players,” Rebels senior forward Marji McNamara said. “When we play them, we come out flying.”
The Rebels stumbled early in the season with a 1-5 start, but they won four of seven games going into the Christmas break. They opened the Armstrong-Cooper holiday tournament with a 4-1 win over Simley on Thursday, Dec. 26, which helped set up their first of two games with the Tornadoes in about a week.
“I think that would be great,” Peluf said about the possibility of seeing the Tornadoes twice.
She saw her wish come true as the Tornadoes beat Rogers 3-2 in a quarterfinal game on Dec. 26. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Tornadoes took the upper hand on Friday, Dec. 27 in a 2-1 overtime win.
The Rebels can return the favor on Saturday. Playing the same team twice in a week can offer some challenges mentally, but the Rebels look forward to the challenge.
“There’s no secrets in our conference,” Rebels coach Jim Koltes said. “With game tape, we’re seeing each other on everything.”
“The only thing we might do different is we may change our lines up a little bit to give them a little bit different look,” Koltes added.
Kaleigh Martinson had the only goal for the Rebels in the 2-1 loss on a power play, assisted by Maggie Cragg. Rebels goalie Hannah Goettl had stopped 24 shots for the Rebels in goal and had a .923 save percentage.
Their tournament meeting affects Section 5AA standing though it doesn’t impact NWSC standings. Saturday’s game will count toward both.
Catching up in both standings has become a top priority for the Rebels (7-9, 4-6 NWSC). They missed Goettl early in the season when she had been out with a high-ankle injury.
When Goettl returned, she simply dominated in the net, posting a .965 save percentage, one of the best in the state. She has three shut outs and a record of 4-3 in her starts.
“With her back there, we are so comfortable,” McNamara said. “We know that she has our back.”
On the other end of the ice, the Rebels had been struggling offensively. They averaged one goal per game in their first six games. Since, they have averaged 2.3 goals per game.
“We’re clicking a lot more than we did earlier,” McNamara said.
The Rebels concluded the Armstrong-Cooper tournament with a 2-1 win over Red Wing. The Wingers, ranked No. 3 in Class A, reached the state Class A tournament last season.