Girls Hockey: Wingers’ power play proves potentThe offense for the Red Wing girls hockey team draws a lot of attention and for good reason — the Wingers are scoring an average of 5.14 goals per game — but where they draw a lot of that offense from is the power play.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
The offense for the Red Wing girls hockey team draws a lot of attention and for good reason — the Wingers are scoring an average of 5.14 goals per game — but where they draw a lot of that offense from is the power play.
Red Wing’s power play and penalty kill are, well, special this season.
The Wingers are connecting on the power play at an incredible 44.6 percent, which ranks seventh in the state, according to mngirlshockeyhub.com. Red Wing has scored 57 power play goals. On the other end, its penalty kill sits at 86.2 percent, having surrendered just eight power-play goals this season.
“It’s been really nice to generate a lot of points out of our power play,” junior defenseman Paige Haley said. “That’s definitely one of our strengths. The talent on our team is able to produce a strong power play.”
Haley is one of the main cogs in the machine that is the Wingers’ power play. Haley, who verbally committed to play at the University of Minnesota, has 25 goals and 30 assists this season.
She trails only sophomore Nicole Schammel on the team in points. Schammel has 32 goals and 24 assists, which ranks in the top 10 of the state this season.
Half of the team’s goals this season have come on the power play and one of the reasons for the high rate of success comes from the system head coach Scott Haley runs. Three years ago Haley implemented an umbrella power-play system. The umbrella is fairly common in the boys game and upper levels of hockey, but in high school girls hockey it’s something of a rarity.
Running an umbrella takes the right kind of players, and Red Wing has had the type of players necessary to run the system recently.
“I think more of our success this year has been dictated by our personnel,” Scott Haley said. “A lot of that has to do with those three up top just controlling the tempo.”
Those are Paige Haley, Schammel and Reagan Haley, the three leading point earners and best passers on the team.
In the umbrella Paige Haley serves as a quarterback of sorts from near the top of the blue line, directing passes to teammates to move the defense around and create shooting lanes. The umbrella stretches defenses out to create openings.
Success didn’t come easily. Scott Haley said he couldn’t run the system his first three years, but when Rose Alleva came along he started running the system and each year since it’s become more potent. In 2009-10 it hit 32.1 percent of the time, last season it was 31.1 percent.
“It’s taken a lot of work,” Paige Haley said. “It’s taken that many years just to perfect it and we haven’t even perfected it yet.”
Schammel plays on the left side and cycles through with Paige while Reagan sits on the right side. Elle Anderson and Emily Stegora work down low and in the slot to get open for shots.
The formation has helped give the Wingers an advantage and guided them to 15 wins, three shy of tying the school record.
“Special teams are important because it’s kinda one of those things that can dictate the tempo of the game,” Scott Haley said. “You can have a real tight game, but if you’re running 2-for-6 on the power-play that night, it will probably be the difference in winning the game.”
The rarity of the system presents challenges for opponents. Since a team encounters it seldom, it’s less likely to prepare to defend it.
“In girls hockey everyone does the same kill,” Scott Haley said. “In order to beat an umbrella, or be really effective against it, you need to run a diamond. It’s something you don’t spend hardly any time on. There’s hardly any teams that are forced to worry about it.”
Red Wing’s potency on the man-advantage can dissuade other teams from playing physically to avoid giving the Wingers a power play.
“My feeling is … teams are more afraid to get into the box a little bit,” Scott Haley said.
Not only has Red Wing spent the past three seasons trying to perfect the umbrella, but it has also put in time during the offseason through fall leagues and summer camps.
The team has played in fall leagues at Kasson for the past several years and 4-on-4s.
The increased offensive production has driven up desire from others on the team to get into the act.
“More people want to score,” Schammel said. “Not that they didn’t want to last year, but it’s now like, ‘Wow, I wanna score this, it’s coming to me.’”