A dozen players to watch in the Section 1 girls hockey playoffs
From Division I commits to skilled seventh-grade playmakers, the Section 1 girls hockey playoffs are loaded with talent.
ROCHESTER — The Section 1AA girls hockey playoffs begin Wednesday with quarterfinals, while the four-team Section 1A playoffs begin Saturday with the section semifinals.
The quarterfinals and semifinals in both classes will be played at home sites of the higher seeds, while the championship games are set for Thursday, Feb. 17, at Owatonna.
Here’s a dozen players to know — one from each team — in the Section 1 girls hockey playoffs:
• McKenzie Rich, Dodge County: One of the most skilled players in the section, Rich finished her first regular season with the Wildcats (14-11-0) with a team-best 26 goals and 41 points. Rich is receiving recruiting attention from Division I scouts, though she has not yet committed to a college program.
• MaKenna Kadrlik, Farmington: The Tigers’ junior forward is the team’s second-leading scorer with 12 goals and 39 points. She’s also tough on specialty teams, with six power-play goals and 15 power-play points for Farmington (11-14-0).
• Meredith Jensen, Lakeville North: The senior Dartmouth College commit can play forward or defense and leads the Panthers (11-13-1) in scoring with 25 goals and 43 points. She has 19 points in the past nine games and a team-best five game-winning goals.
• Claire Enright, Lakeville South: The senior forward is committed to powerhouse University of Wisconsin and has helped No. 6-ranked South to a 23-2-0 record. She has 48 goals (second-most in the state) and 68 points (ninth-most in the state), including 10 power-play goals and 10 game-winning goals.
• Maggie Malecha, Northfield: The senior goalie is committed to Division I St. Thomas after an outstanding high school career. Malecha is 16-5-3 this season with a 1.51 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage (fifth-best in the state) and six shutouts (eighth-most in the state).
• Ezra Oien, Owatonna: The junior forward has been a force for the Huskies for four seasons. She jumped right into varsity play as an eighth-grader, when she was the team’s second-leading scorer. This season, Oien leads the Huskies in goals (16), assists (21), points (37) and power-play goals (4).
• Abigail Conners, Century/JM: Conners has backstopped the Panthers to six wins this season; she has an .868 save percentage and has recorded one shutout this year. The playoffs and the change in intensity are nothing new to Conners, who is in her fourth year as a varsity starter.
• Katie Cummings, Mayo: The leading scorer for the Spartans (9-16-0), Cummings has a team-best 17 goals and 23 points. The freshman recorded at least one point in 15 games this season.
• Morgan Goskeson, Albert Lea: Just a seventh-grader, Goskeson leads Albert Lea in goals (20) and points (24). She has three hat tricks and seven multi-goal games for the 11-10-1 Tigers, the top seed in the section playoffs.
• Kate Holtz, Austin: The standout forward, who committed to Northland College last week, has put together a terrific senior season for the 13-10-0 Packers. Holtz leads the section with 31 goals and 54 points. She also has 6 power-play goals, 4 short-handed goals and 5 game winners.
• Illamay Draheim, Waseca: The Bluejays’ standout goalie is just a seventh-grader, but she has compiled an .868 save percentage in 23 starts, with one shutout. She averages 36.7 saves per game for the 4-20-1 Bluejays.
• Aliya Gricius, Winona: The freshman goalie has been busy, though not as busy as a year ago, when she averaged 58.06 shots faced per game and saved 51.3 per game. This season, Gricius has an .891 save percentage, making 47.43 saves per game (53.2 shots).