By Bob San
Sun Press Newspapers
Maple Grove entered last Saturday’s Section 6 girls’ hockey quarterfinal match with high hopes but Wayzata dashed the Crimson’s state tournament dream with a 4-2 win.
“The girls and coaches have high expectations for the section so it was a disappointing end,” Crimson assistant coach Joey Olson said. “But with the section as tough as it is, we realized that we had a chance to win it but we knew it could also end at any time.”
The Crimson played hard and battled a physical Wayzata squad evenly. Wayzata had 26 shots to Maple Grove’s 22. The score was tied 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two. Abby Larson scored MG’s first goal and Lauren Kaufmann netted the other.
A key to the game was the Crimson’s inability to capitalize on power play opportunities. The Crimson were 0-4 on power plays, including one in the second when they had a two-player advantage. They also gave up a short-handed goal early in the third period that put Wayzata up 3-2. The Trojans added the insurance goal later.
“Wayzata is a bigger and stronger team and they came in with a game plan to play very physical,” Olson said. “They drew a few more penalties but unfortunately we could not capitalize. That’s the biggest part of the game.”
The loss ended a great season for the Crimson, who finished 17-5-2 overall. They were unranked most of the season but more than held their own playing some of the top teams in the state.
“We beat No. 1 Hopkins and we beat Blaine,” Olson said. “Elk River and Andover are 1 and 2 in their section and are playing for the section championship and we were undefeated against them. So we are very proud of the girls. The Wayzata game was a disappointing end but we had a very good season.”
The program’s future looks very bright because the Crimson return a solid nucleus.
“We graduate four seniors and we will have lots of quality depth returning,” Olson said. “Our top scorer Taylor Wente and goalies Coco Francis and Breanna Blesi are freshmen and we return all six defenders. So for the next couple seasons the future is looking pretty bright. It’s just a matter of training hard in the off-season to get bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled. Like we told the girls, the section isn’t getting any easier so we have to keep improving.”
Contact Bob San at [email protected]