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Deep Dodge County team has trio of talented veterans it can lean on as girls hockey playoffs begin

Lyndi Schubert and McKenzie Rich are seniors who have played multiple positions and played a lot of hockey at a high level. Goalie Ida Huber is just a freshman, but has as much postseason experience as anyone on her team. Those three players will need to be rocks for Dodge County teammates to lean on if they hope to make a postseason run.

Lyndi Schubert.jpg
Dodge County Wildcats defender Lyndi Schubert made the switch from forward to defense this season and has been the backbone of a talented Wildcats team that opens postseason play on Wednesday.
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Dodge County went through some growing pains in the early weeks of the 2021-22 girls hockey season.

The Wildcats started out 0-5 and were shut out twice in that span.

But as the calendar flipped to December, lines were shuffled, the Wildcats’ talented but new freshman goalie began to settle in and a couple of key players changed positions. Since then, Dodge County has gone 14-6-0 and will head into the Section One, Class AA playoffs this week with momentum and confidence.

The Wildcats, the No. 5 seed in the section, played the Nos. 2 (Northfield) and 4 (Lakeville North) seeds to one-goal games, and led top-seeded Lakeville South in the third period before the Cougars rallied to win.

Depth has been a key to the Wildcats’ resurgence, but they’ve also had some players develop into game-changers. Here’s a look at three of them — one at each position — as Dodge County prepares to play its playoff opener at Lakeville North at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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LYNDI SCHUBERT, DEFENSE

The senior and sixth-year varsity player is the Wildcats’ calming presence on the ice. Her superb vision and poise with the puck led the Dodge County coaching staff to move her from forward to defense after the team’s 0-5 start.

She’s the younger sister of Kayla and Malia Schubert, who graduated two years ago and were mainstays on the Wildcats’ varsity team for years. Lyndi is following in her sister Kayla’s skates, transitioning from forward to defense.

“Lyndi is so calm with the puck and she sees the ice better than almost any kid we’ve ever had,” Wildcats head coach Jeremy Gunderson said. “Kayla was a wing for the longest time, then we moved her back to defense and she was an all-state player.

“Lyndi’s a lot like her. She is so patient. She’s like having a quarterback on the ice, she never panics.”

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Lyndi said the urgency of being a senior has kicked in, realizing that any game now could be the last high school game for her and the team’s six other seniors. That group has been through a lot in their six years with the high school program, from a four-overtime playoff loss as seventh-graders to four playoff wins, but no trips to the section championship game. They’re determined to have a different ending this season.

“It’s our senior year and we don’t want it to end,” Schubert said. “We’ll try as hard as we can to help our team keep going.”

That drive and determination are a big reason why Schubert also recently committed to play college hockey at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Schubert has persevered through a lot – including a torn ACL, which caused her to miss the entire regular season her sophomore year. She said the rehab and mental toll were worth it.

“I wanted to play with my sisters one last time,” she said of her motivation to return by the end of the 2019-20 season. “I got back and was able to play in sections with them. It was a lot of work and effort, a lot of PT, spent a lot of time at Mayo and made sure to do my exercises, the things you have to do (to get better) when no one’s watching.”

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Schubert has eight goals and 14 assists this season and is second on the team with seven power-play points.

“She’s always been very skilled,” Gunderson said. “She can skate well, shoot, pass, and she is very dedicated. She’s always been willing to put in the extra time.”

McKENZIE RICH, FORWARD

One of two key newcomers to the Wildcats this season, Rich transferred in after playing the past two seasons at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault. The ultra-skilled and quick-footed forward instantly became one of the best goal-scorers and all-around talents in southeastern Minnesota.

She hasn’t disappointed, moving to forward from defense and leading the Wildcats in scoring with 26 goals and 41 points.

Rich, who played in a program at Shattuck with four Olympians, is receiving interest from Division I programs and is intent on playing college hockey, though she wants to help the Wildcats make a deep postseason run first.

“Her passing ability is unreal, so good tape-to-tape,” Gunderson said of Rich. “She has a quick release, can shoot the puck and her first couple of steps are explosive, an attribute a lot of high school players don’t have. She has some of those things that separate a player from being a Division III player or playing at the Division I level.

“She’s so competitive, she’s strong and she just enjoys the game.”

After learning from older and more experienced teammates at Shattuck, Rich has become the mentor this season. She’s playing on a line with two talented freshmen, Mollie Koch and Nora Carstensen, who have combined for 63 points.

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“It was hard to adjust at first (to being in a new program),” Rich said, “but it’s super nice to be home — I haven’t lived at home since seventh grade. The girls have been great, welcoming and looking back now the season has blown by so fast. It’s been fun to be on a line with two freshmen and help them grown their game.

“Their hockey IQ and toughness in their game is really high for their age. If they keep working hard they’ll be really, really good hockey players. It’s been cool to play with them.”

IDA HUBER, GOALIE

The only player on the Wildcats’ roster with high school state tournament experience, Huber, a freshman, transferred into the program after Lourdes’ program dissolved after last season. She backstopped Lourdes to a Section 1A championship last spring and a spot in the Class A state tournament.

She has fit in seamlessly with the Wildcats this winter, compiling a 12-11-0 record, a 2.55 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.

“Ida’s a great kid, one of our hardest workers and super competitive,” Gunderson said. “For a player who’s only in ninth grade, she’s very polished. She works hard and skill-wise she’s fast and aggressive. She never wants to give up the net in practice or in a game. Sometimes we have to pry her out of there.”

Huber has played all but six periods for the Wildcats and has turned in a number of standout performances, including making 25 saves in a 2-1 win against section rival Owatonna on Jan. 28. She also stopped 22 shots in a narrow 2-1 loss to Northfield — the No. 2 seed in the section playoffs — last week.

“The coaches and teammates here appreciate the game,” Huber said. “They’re very competitive and we do a lot of team bonding off the ice. It feels like a family.

“We know we can compete with Northfield and (Owatonna) and the other top teams in the section. No matter the score, we just have to keep playing. If we come together, bring our energy and play as a team, we can really make a run.”

Jason Feldman is the sports editor of the Post Bulletin. In addition to managing the four-person sports staff at the PB, Jason covers high school football, golf and high school and junior hockey. Readers can reach Jason at 507-281-7430 or jfeldman@postbulletin.com.
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