Head coach: Tom Aney
Note: Century and John Marshall are in a co-op this season. JM had been on its own for the past three seasons after previously co-oping with Lourdes. JM and Century co-oped for two seasons in the mid-2000s.
Last season: Century 2-21-0 overall; JM 7-19-0.
Key departures: F Ashley Koehler (20-10—30); F Kinsey Torgrimson (6-5—11); D Megan Andrist (4-3—7).
Key returners: Sr. F Greta Freed (28-16—44); So. F Kailey Birkestrand (8-7—15); Sr. D Katherine Thorvilson (3-7—10); So. F Halle Squires (6-4—10); Sr. D Josie Nichols (2-7—9); So. F Kasey Klouser (4-5—9).
Outlook: Century/JM is seeing great leadership so far from its captains and veteran players, including Freed, Thorvilson, Alyssa Kang, Katherine Wheeler and Collette Barry. Freed is one of the top forwards and top scorers in the conference. The Panthers have a big sophomore class this season who all have a lot of varsity experience, including Birkestrand (Century’s leading scorer last year), and up-and-coming sophomores Grace Oyen and Kasey Klouser. Coach Aney said the Panthers have a strong group of newcomers, as well, who are already fitting in nicely. That group includes Megan Gamble, Annika Torbenson and Daelyn Williams, as well as three or four others who are pushing for lineup spots. Sophomore Abi Connors started every game in goal for Century last season and will give the Panthers a poised, veteran netminder.
Coach Aney says: “We are starting our first year as a co-op with JM and I've loved how quickly the girls have embraced their former crosstown rivals. The leadership from our captains and the buy-in from all the players has been outstanding. We will obviously be deeper because of the coop and we expect to be very competitive in the majority of our games.
“(Freed) brings a burning intensity and is a threat every time she hits the ice and it's contagious to the rest of the skaters. Our top four defensmen, Thorvilson, Kang, Barry, and Tomminello, have all been playing regular varsity shifts for at least the past two seasons. This gives us one of the more experienced defensive cores in the conference.”
Head coach: Mike McCormack (7th season)
Last season: 5-18-1 overall, lost to Farmington in Section 1AA quarterfinal
Key departures: F Nakya Renn (3-6—9); F Haley Handelman (4-3—7).
Key returners: Sr. D Luella Bianco (7-9—16); Sr. D Maggie Augeson (3-6—9); Sr. F Devynn Priest (18-7—25); Jr. F Elizabeth Arendt (4-3—7); Jr. F Milla Sadowy (1-6—7)
Outlook: The Spartans welcome more than a half-dozen freshmen — Sydney Albrecht, Andrea Augeson, Cassidy Arendt, Jadyn Lester, Lynden Loos, Elle Roth and Claire Siems — who could slot right into varsity spots. McCormack said Mayo will have the most players it’s had in recent seasons and he is anticipating the Spartans putting three competitive lines on the ice. Bianco and Maggie Augeson give Mayo a pair of strong leaders on the blue line, and three players are competing for time in goal.
Coach McCormack says: “It’s important to find some chemistry between the new players and our veterans. We definitely need to improve the ratio of goals-against versus goals-for compared to last season.
“The coaches are anticipating that we can field three competitive lines and not attempt to skate most of the game with only two lines. We have two very experienced defensemen with Maggie and Luella and we have some pretty good options to determine who will be the other defensemen. We also have three goaltenders so there will be some competition for playing time. The ninth-grade forwards should also push our veterans so I expect our forward lines to be fluid for the first few weeks.”
Head coach: Laura Vannelli (1st season)
Last season: 18-12-0, Section 1A champions, fourth at Class A state tournament
Key departures: F Emma Schmitz (24-34—58); F Sarah Dravis (26-23—49); F Sawyer Fleming (11-15—26); F Delaney Fleming (10-11—21); D Allison Smith (6-11—17); G Corrin Hanson (18-12-0, 3.07 GAA, .878 save pct.).
Key returners: Sr. D Maggie Hanzel (17-27—44); Sr. F Abby Wick (6-12—18).
Outlook: Lourdes lost three Division I players off last season’s team — Schmitz (Sacred Heart), Dravis (Lindenwood) and Smith (Union) — and goalie Corrin Hanson, who is playing at Northland College. But the cupboard is not bare for first-year head coach Laura Vannelli. Senior Maggie Hanzel is one of the best — if not the best — defensemen in the state. The Boston University commit set her career high in goals (17) and assists (27) last year, and enters her senior season with 39 goals and 111 career points. Senior forward Abby Wick, who has committed to play at Division III Colby College in Maine, is also a three-year varsity regular for the Eagles. Those two will be relied upon to carry the load early this season while a young team jells. The Eagles will have a small roster this season, 11 skaters and two goalies, which means plenty of ice time for everyone. Paige Gallaugher, Autumn Arcand and Layla Rippentrop are talented returners who will join Hanzel on the blue line. Carmen Erickson and Lizzie Pike are other top returners up front, along with Wick. Second-year Eagle Kiley Buer and newcomer Ida Huber are the team’s two goalies.
Coach Vannelli says: “With 11 skaters and two goalies, it’s a significant change from the team makeup we’ve had in the past. It’ll be really important that all our girls are brought up to speed quickly on strategy and are flexible to play both forward and defense, play multiple positions in the same game.
“Our younger players are really exciting to me. They’ve stepped in and integrated seamlessly. They get the drills, they work hard. They’ve spent several months getting to know the upperclassmen. It’s a tight-knit and well-functioning group.”
DODGE COUNTY WILDCATS
Head coach: Jeremy Gunderson
Last season: 14-12-1, lost to Farmington in Section 1AA semifinals
Key departures: F Malia Schubert (21-13—34), F Kennedy Kraus (11-16—27), D Kayla Schubert (11-10—21).
Key returners: Sr. G Sky Hughes (15-10-1, 2.31 GAA, .920 save pct.); Sr. D Liz Fagerlind (10-10—20); Sr. F Nevaeh Trihey (8-10—18); Sr. F McKenna Freerksen (5-8-—13); Jr. F Lyndi Schubert (returning from ACL injury).
Top newcomer: Sr. D Eliza DiNatale (30-11—41, with Red Wing)
Outlook: Dodge County lost its top three scorers to graduation, but still will be a veteran-laden team. It starts from the net out, with senior Sky Hughes entering her third season as the team’s starting goalie. Seniors Elizabeth Fagerlind (10-10—20) and Eliza DiNatale (30-11—41), a transfer from Red Wing, will anchor a strong defensive corps that goes six players deep. The Wildcats will roll four forward lines against a hefty schedule that features matchups against some of the state’s top teams, including Breck, Warroad, Hill-Murray, Eden Prairie, Duluth and more.
Coach Gunderson says: “I’m just excited to see the kids back playing and being at the rink. Win or lose, I just want to see them have a safe, fun, full season of hockey, as the kids deserve that. They all work very hard and this team is like a family, so time together is great.”