Girls Hockey: Wingers ready to make mark at the ‘X’The Red Wing girls hockey team will get a rematch against last year’s consolation championship game opponent Hutchinson in the first round of the Class A state tournament at Xcel Energy Center Wednesday at 8 p.m.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
The Red Wing girls hockey team will get a rematch against last year’s consolation championship game opponent Hutchinson in the first round of the Class A state tournament at Xcel Energy Center Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The 10th-ranked Wingers (19-7-1) beat the 12-ranked Tigers (15-12)
5-2 last year to secure fifth place. Neither team won its first round game last season and Hutchinson, who is making its fourth consecutive state tournament appearance, hasn’t won a first-round game in any of its previous three trips to state. It’s the first time Red Wing has been seeded at the state tournament.
The Wingers got a favorable draw by getting the four seed in a tournament that features the top three ranked teams in the state poll. Red Wing avoided a matchup with one of the top seeds in the first round like top-ranked Breck, which got the No. 1 seed, second-ranked Warroad, which won the Class A title last season and is the No. 2 seed, and South St. Paul, ranked third in the state poll, the No. 3 seed. The Packers defeated the Wingers 9-3 at the start of the season.
Hutchinson, ranked 12th in the state, reached the state tournament after beating 11th-ranked Mankato East/Loyola 5-2 and eighth-ranked Mound-Westonka 3-2 in the Section 2A championship. The Tigers entered the postseason on a four-game losing streak.
It’s the first meeting between the two teams since last year’s consolation championship, a game the Wingers won 5-4. Hutchinson hasn’t won a first-round game in its previous three state appearances.
“I think this year it’s going to be really fun because we kind of know what it’s about now,” sophomore forward Nicole Schammel said. “We really want to win our first game and stay at the X and make a mark and show what we’re made of.”
Red Wing set a school record for wins this season with 19 and also got record-setting performances from Schammel and freshman forward Reagan Haley. Schammel set the school record for points in a season with 80 (46 goals, 34 assists) and Haley set a record for assists in a season with 42.
Schammel set the school record for goals in a single season last year with 41.
Schammel has thrived in big games for the Wingers. Schammel scored three times in Red Wing’s 5-2 victory over New Prague for the Section 1A title and had a goal and two assists last season in the consolation championship against Hutchinson. Schammel also had two goals and an assist in a 5-2 win over Alexandria at the state tournament last season.
Red Wing will have to contend against a prolific goal scorer in Hutchinson’s Sara Carlson. Carlson leads Hutchinson with 46 goals and 27 assists. The Tigers (15-12-0) averaged 4.71 goals per game during the regular season. Anderson scored six goals during the section tournament and Allison Neubarth scored four times. Claire Cripps had three goals and six assists during the playoffs and finished with 53 points (26 goals, 27 assists) in the regular season.
The Wingers return to the state tournament as a more experienced team after making a trip last season and in the 2008-09 season where they finished third.
“I think the biggest difference is we’ve been there in the past,” Red Wing head coach Scott Haley said. “Some of our key contributors were younger and now they’re a little bit older.”
The Wingers have just three seniors on the team and two juniors.
But while young, the group has succeeded at every level. Part of that success has come from a closeness on and off the ice.
Several team members grew up in the same neighborhood and knew each other before they started playing together through older siblings who played on the same teams.
The players have shown a dedication to the sport through offseason camps and leagues, which has paid dividends this season.
“Everyone has gotten a lot better and everyone is stepping up and playing a key role in our scoring,” Schammel said. “I just think we’ve gotten a ton better with our goaltending and everything.”
Six players had 10 or more points during the regular season for Red Wing as the Wingers averaged 5.32 goals per game.