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GHS: Games of the Week (Jan. 4-6)

By Derek Felska , 01/02/24, 4:15PM CST


From Brainerd to Kasson, here are five girls hockey games to check out if you are in the area.

Orono at Benilde-St. Margaret's 
January 4 (5:30 PM) 

Zoe Lopez, Orono

This is an intriguing Metro West battle between Class A powerhouse Orono and Class AA powerhouse Benilde-St. Margaret's. Who will come out on top in their only game this season?  

Orono is coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to Centennial/St. Louis Park. The Spartans are led by senior Alexa Niccum (UW-River Falls commit, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 points) as well as junior forward Zoe Lopez (Minnesota State commit, 16-10-26) along with sophomore Maddy Kimbrel (13-11-24) provide Orono with plenty of speed, skill and scoring up front. The Spartans' power play has been dangerous this season, lighting the lamp at a 27.7% rate.

On defense, senior Grace Bickett (7-14-21) and Allie Pleimann (3-3-6), along with juniors Alex Paulson (0-9-9), maintain their gaps well and do an excellent job at denying the middle of the ice. At goaltender, Orono has split starts between freshman Vivienne Anderson (.933 save percentage) and junior Maddie Forsyth (.903 save percentage) this season.  

Benilde-St. Margaret's is coming off a 3-1 victory over Eden Prairie. The Red Knights are led at forward by junior Kendall Hassler (7-5-12), Talla Hansen (11-8-19), senior Kaeli Koopman (4-3-7), and Katie Zakrajscheck (1-7-8) provide the kind of scoring depth few teams can match. Sophomore Ellie Stewart (6-12-18) has emerged as a go-to scoring threat. Benilde-St. Margaret's power play is off to a fast start, converting at a 29.5% rate.

On defense, juniors Ella Pasqua (Quinnipiac commit, 5-8-13), Bailey Gray (5-6-11), and LuLu Rucinski (3-5-8) are a solid group of two-way defenders who like to join the attack.

At goaltender, the Red Knights have split starts between senior Demetra Walsma (.888 save percentage) and Elie Hancock (.878 save percentage).

Ella Pasqua, Benilde-St. Margaret's

Willmar at Brainerd/Little Falls 
January 4 (7:15 PM) 

Here is a Central Lakes Conference showdown between Class A Willmar and Class AA Brainerd/Little Falls. The Warriors prevailed 1-0 on November 16th. Can Brainerd/Little Falls sweep the series with a win at home?  

Willmar is coming off a 6-0 victory over Northern Lakes. The Cardinals are led at forward by senior Sophia Quinn (6-5-11), Chloe Lownsbury (4-7-11), and Rebecca Dawson (0-9-9), as well as juniors Lauren Eilers (9-8-17) and Avery Olson (8-6-14) give Willmar two capable scoring lines.

On defense, senior Makenna Larson (7-3-10), junior Hannah Bredesen (0-2-2), and freshman Ryah Gorans (1-2-3) work well together and look for opportunities to chip in offensively. The Cardinals penalty kill is pretty effective, shutting down 90% of opposing power plays this season. Junior goaltender Erin Eilers (.936 save percentage) has been outstanding for the Cardinals this season.  

Brainerd/Little Falls is coming off a 3-1 victory over Forest Lake. Senior forwards Molly Pohlkamp (9-0-9) and Peyton LeMieur (3-8-11), junior Brianna Finnegan (1-1-2), and sophomores Levi LeMieur (3-3-6) and Lily DeRosier (2-2-4) provide most of the scoring for Brainerd/Little Falls.

On defense, juniors Sequoia Kicker (1-1-2), Aubree Caauwe (1-2-3), and Kristina Bailif (2-2-4) protect the middle of the ice, giving opponents few lanes of attack which is essential for a team that struggles to generate a lot of offense. Junior goaltender Ericah Folden (.949 save percentage) brings tremendous confidence and stability to the Brainerd/Little Falls' crease.

Chisago Lakes at Dodge County 
January 5 (6:00 PM) 

It is an all-Wildcats battle as Chisago Lakes makes its way down to Dodge County Arena. Which Wildcats team will reign supreme? 

Chisago Lakes is coming off a 4-3 overtime victory over Rogers. The Wildcats are led at forward by seniors Alyson Vogelsang (St. Catherine's commit, 4-6-10) and Brooke Klemz (Hamline commit, 6-3-9), junior Lauren Schmidt (5-10-15), sophomores Ella Perreault (10-6-16) and Allison Smothers (5-6-11) as well as freshman Lexi Smothers (9-2-11) carry most of the scoring load up front.

On defense, juniors Nora DeVries (St. Thomas commit, 2-7-9) and Joee Westland (2-3-5), as well as sophomore Naomi Eaton (0-7-7), log a lot of minutes for Chisago Lakes. At goaltender, junior Breanna Ritter (.879 save percentage) has garnered most of the starts this season for Chisago Lakes, but they have utilized fellow junior Evi Reedy (.876 save percentage), too.  

Dodge County is coming off a 3-1 victory over Gentry Academy. At forward, Dodge County is led by senior MaKenna LaFleur (7-11-18), juniors Nora Carstensen (16-17-33), Hannah Peterson (7-5-12), and Mollie Koch (6-10-16), sophomore Zoe Heimer (9-15-24) as well as freshman Maysie Koch (13-13-26) form the core of three effective scoring lines for the Wildcats. 8th grader Daisy Harens (7-7-14) is a rising star. The Wildcats' power play is potent, finding the back of the net at a 30.5% rate.

On defense, seniors Abby Simons (4-21-25), Alyse Williamschen (1-3-4), and Alexa Van Straaten (4-3-7) keep it simple on their end but also take their chances to get involved in the offensive zone as well. They have yet to surrender a power-play goal this season. Junior goaltender Ida Huber (.915 save percentage) has made all of the starts for the Wildcats this season.

Mollie Koch, Dodge County

Crookston at Northfield 
January 5 (7:15 PM) 

This is an intriguing game as Section 7A makes its way across the state to take on a talented Northfield squad. Will the Pirates win the day, or will the Raiders send Crookston back home with a loss?

Crookston is coming off a 4-3 loss to Warroad. At forward, seniors Brekken Tull (3-3-6), Brynley Coleman (5-4-9), and Cassie Solheim (4-4-8) as well as junior Addison Fee (6-4-10) and sophomore Taylor Field (3-4-7) provide Crookston quality scoring depth. 8th grade forward Jocelyn Field (2-11-13) has emerged as the team's top scorer.

On defense, senior Reese Swanson (4-4-8), along with sophomores Ashlyn Bailey (2-4-6) and Emma LaPlante (4-1-5), as well as 8th grader Adley Vigness (1-5-6), keep the Pirates on the attack and like to be involved in the offensive zone. The Pirates' penalty kill is solid, shutting down opposing power plays at a 93.9% rate. Junior goaltender Kambelle Freije (.929 save percentage) is one of the best at her position in Class A.

Undefeated Northfield is coming off a 5-2 win over Farmington. Northfield is led by seniors Ayla Puppe (Minnesota commit, 37-27-64), Emerson Garlie (17-12-29), and Isabelle Stephes (Wisconsin-River Falls commit, 10-12-22), giving the Raiders top-notch scoring depth. The Raiders' power play is very effective, converting at a 34.5% rate. Freshman forward Emma Peroutka (6-6-12) is showing a lot of promise.

Seniors Grace McCoshen (10-18-28) and talented sophomore Mia Miller (12-27-39) are skilled two-way defenders who can shut you down but almost seem like additional forwards on the ice. Freshman Isabelle Paulson (1-6-7) shows lots of potential on Northfield's blueline. Junior goaltender Macy Mueller (.942 save percentage) has made every start this season for Northfield.

Minnetonka at Edina 
January 6 (2:00 PM) 

Bella Finnegan, Minnetonka

This season, this is the first of two meetings between these two Lake conference rivals. Will the Skippers find a way to win on the road at Braemar, or will Edina prevail?  

Minnetonka is coming off a 0-0 tie to Andover. At forward, seniors Kendra Distad (Minnesota commit, 9-19-28), Lindzi Avar (Cornell commit, 10-21-31), juniors Lauren Mack (Providence commit, 12-15-27), Ruby Rauk (Quinnipiac commit, 5-13-18), Ellie Zakrajshek (Minnesota-Duluth commit, 6-12-18) and Senja Leeper (Bemidji State commit, 5-9-14) give the Skippers terrific scoring depth. 8th grader Sydney Boss Krohn (6-5-11) keeps improving with each game. The Skippers' power play is one of the best in the state, lighting the lamp at a 41.7% rate.

Junior Bella Finnegan (Harvard commit, 8-4-12) lead a youthful Minnetonka blue line on defense, and junior Ashlyn Hazlett (Bemidji State commit, .930 save percentage) has carried most of the goaltending workload.

Edina is coming off a 3-2 overtime win against Stillwater. The Hornets have plenty of firepower up front led by Ms. Hockey candidate as discussed on Episode #1 of YHH's Her Ice senior Hannah Halverson (Wisconsin commit, 11-11-22), juniors Whitney Horton (St. Thomas commit, 8-7-15) and Cate McCoy (9-10-19) as well as sophomore Lorelai Nelson (4-12-16).

On defense, senior Taylor Porthan (0-6-6), junior Camille Dubuc (3-4-7), and sophomore Taylor Gardner (0-5-5) are skilled and help Edina transition quickly and efficiently. The Hornets have utilized fellow junior Reese McConnell (.915 save percentage) this season, and the experience will come in handy with Nora Hannan off to Team USA until mid-January. 

Camille Dubuc, Edina

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