Girls hockey season opens Thursday

By John Molene
Posted 11/8/23

The puck drops Thursday for a still young Park girls hockey team looking for more wins this season.

Park was extremely young last season and the entire team returns except for graduated seniors …

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Girls hockey season opens Thursday


The puck drops Thursday for a still young Park girls hockey team looking for more wins this season.

Park was extremely young last season and the entire team returns except for graduated seniors and co-captains Taylar Nadler and Molly Villas, along with stating goalie Tori Stepka who will miss the season with an injury she sustained in soccer. Nadler and Villas were two of Park’s top three scorers last winter, each scoring 10 goals.

While the Wolfpack was young last season, they’ll still be young this winter as a new crop of talented young players moves up to the varsity.

Finding players who can put the puck in the back of the net and a goalie to replace Stepka will be priorities for the Wolfpack this winter.

“We lost some scoring, we lost Nadler and Villas and that was a big punch of our scoring,” said Park head coach Bay Shock. “Then of course we lost our starting goalie Tori Stepka,   

Junior Lauren Osland (10 goals, four assists), senior Maggie Jensen (six goals, 12 assists) and Alaina Post (nine goals, three assists) are the retuning headliners on offense for the Wolfpack.

In addition to Osland and Jensen, a host of other players return, all of whom saw action in at least 23 games for Park last season. Veterans back include sisters Natalie and Alaina Post, Krya Stofer, Josie Leonard, Alyssa Hill, Sam Miller, Cassidy Moen, Morgan Kelsey, Keira Brennan and Avery Tait. They’ll be joined by some talented newcomers up on the varsity.  Stepka, Jensen and Leonard will be captains this season.

“I think we have a lot of younger girls, even newer ones, that have a lot of grit and are ready to play even though it’s going to be at a higher level, obviously,” said Jensen. “But I think they’re ready to go so it should be fun.

“A successful season would be all of us just having fun and encouraging each other and getting along and scoring and winning,” Jensen added.

Leading goalie Stepka was a captain last season and played in 25 games, stopping 598 of 668 shots, a .895 percentage. Her presence in the met will be missed. Three goalies saw limited action behind Stepka. Junior Aubree Laska played in 16 games and had a .938 save percentage.  Alayna Adamez played in nine games and Lauryn Ehrenstrom four.

“I think that our team just needs to stay consistent through all the periods, not just one of them, and then we go downhill the second and come back up the third,” said Laska. “I think all of us need to stay in the game the entire time mentally and physically.

“We still have a lot of young girls,” Laksa added. I feel like we’re all still learning because we did bring up a ton of younger girls. Were still all learning how to play with each other and we’re just going with the flow right now and we’ll see where it ends up.”

The Wolfpack went 9-15-2 last season and were 4-11-1 in the Suburban East Conference, finishing eighth. Park’s players would like to turn those numbers around this winter.

“The expectations, we just got to be better,” said Shock. “Better than last year, improve on things. And it’s really those small things like handling the puck, passing the puck. We’ve got to find some scoring this year because we obviously lost those two from last year. And we don’t have a ton of seniors. This year I think we have five total seniors. We’ve got to find some scoring and the young kids coming in, we had a nice ninth grade group and I think four or five of them will be in the starting lineup right away.”

Park managed just two goals in three games in exhibition play in Duluth last weekend.

“We’ve got some scoring, we just need to be more consistent than three goals here then five games off and you finally score again,” said Shock.

Stillwater, which went 16-0 in conference play a year ago, is likely the team to beat in the Suburban East Conference again, Shock said.  “It will be a tough conference, but I think we’re just bringing in a little more experience with these younger kids coming off some good youth teams, so I look for them to surprise some people.”

Park opens the season Thursday with a non-conference game at Bloomington Jefferson, starting at 7 p.m. It’s the first of eight away games for the Wolfpack. Park’s first home game isn’t until a Dec. 5 match against East Ridge at Cottage Grove Ice Arena, starting at 7 p.m.