by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
What is the most under-rated girls’ hockey team in Minnesota? If you say Maple Grove, you have a pretty good argument.
The Crimson have tied and beat Blaine, which has been ranked in the top 10 all year. They also beat Andover and Buffalo, both ranked teams, and had close losses to No. 1 Minnetonka and No. 2 Wayzata. Yet, Maple Grove is not ranked in any polls.
Maple Grove’s most recent big win was a 2-1 triumph at Blaine Tuesday, Jan. 14. Taylor Wendt gave MG a 1-0 lead in the second period. Blaine tied it later in the period before Abby Larson scored the go-ahead goal on a tip- in of a Lainie Baldwin shot with 2 minutes left to play. Winning goalie Coco Francis and the Crimson then killed off a 6-on-4 in the final minutes to preserve the big win. Francis stopped 25 of 26 shots for the victory.
“The team has been playing very well and we had a big win over Blaine,” Maple Grove assistant coach Joey Olson said. “The girls played a very fast and physical game. They really turned up the energy and effort in the third.”
The Crimson finished out the week with a 3-1 win over Andover Jan. 16 and a 9-1 over North Metro Jan. 18.
Maple Grove held Andover to 18 shots and got goals from Bailey and Taylor Wendt and Katie Josephson. Francis was the winning goalie.
Against North Metro, Larson had a hat trick, Josephson had four assists and Lauren Kaufmann had a goal and three assists. MG also got goals from Tina Kampa, Bailey Wendt, Sam Boonstra, Hailey Herdine, Emily Ach and Tippy Hill. Francis was the winning goalie.
The 3-0 week propelled Maple Grove to second place in the conference with a 10-2-2 record, just one point out of first place in conference behind Blaine (11-2-1). Even though they have not received any recognition, the Crimson are playing with confidence, knowing they can play with any team in the state. They will be tested again at fifth-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret Thursday and at Anoka Saturday.