Park girls hockey team looks for bounce back season

Posted 11/10/21

Park is back on the ice with another young girls hockey team, ready to break through with some victories this season. “The lucky thing, we put last year behind us,” said Park head coach Bay …

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Park girls hockey team looks for bounce back season

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Park is back on the ice with another young girls hockey team, ready to break through with some victories this season.

“The lucky thing, we put last year behind us,” said Park head coach Bay shock.

Park was winless last season in 16 games. But the Wolfpack was close to breaking through, losing six games by just a pair of goals.

“The lucky thing, we put last year behind us and we’re on to a new year,” said Park head coach Bay Shock. “There’s a lot of new faces on both teams. Numbers are kind of low, we only have 25 skaters and three goalies, so that’s low.”

The Wolfpack will be without leading scorer Shauna Miller who had 11of the team’s 22 goals and three assists as a senior last season. But returning are a host of younger players who saw varsity ice time last season, led by goalies Tori Stepka and top assist leader junior Shelby Hansen.

Stepka, a sophomore, is experienced, splitting time in the net about evenly last season with Isabella Wegele, who opted not to return for her senior season.

“I think a lot of us came back with a more positive attitude because we want to improve from last season and we’ve been learning a lot and improving every practice,” said Hansen, a junior, had 10 assists and one goal last season. “I’m just really proud of all the younger girls for coming out and working their hardest every single day. I think we can put a few away this year for sure.”

The team is very young, however, with just one senior and three juniors (Hansen, Molly Villas and Taylar Nadler) on the roster. The rest of the varsity roster will be sophomores through eighth graders. Ninth grader Natalie Post played extensively last season. Another ninth grader, Kyra Stofer, returns on defense, along with sophomore Sam Miller.

“We’re going to lean on everybody,” said Shock. “That’s the thing. I’m hoping somebody steps up and we get more of a balanced scoring instead of one kid getting all the goals.”

The Wolfpack had trouble finding the back of the net last season – averaging just 1.3 goals a game — and that may be a challenge this season as well. No one on Park’s returning roster had more than two goals a year ago.

“It’s a focus this year,” said Shock. “We’ve got to score goals. We know we’ve got a good goaltender, two good goaltenders. But you can’t win with zero. So you’ve got to score some goals so I hope some of those younger players that were in eighth grade, we call them experienced in ninth grade. We’re going to lean on them a little bit.”

Park has seven forwards and two defenders returning with varsity experience.

‘What I want them to do is just play well and lose the – sometimes we were beat before we started,” said Shock. “There was a lot of positive talk this weekend and it’s just the opening scrimmages but I really liked it. I don’t know if they even noticed that they were doing that, but the buyin, the working hard and then the team bonding.”

Park hosts Red Wing on Friday, Nov. 12, then Tartan on Tuesday, Nov. 16, to open the season.

Unlike last season when Covid restrictions forced Park to play an all conference slate, this year will have several non-conference contests, including Red Wing, Tartan, Rochester Century, Hudson and Bloomington Jefferson.