South-metro girls' hockey preview

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 20, 2012 - 5:33 PM

The power teams are expected to be strong again but there could be some surprises.

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Lakeville North goalie Cassie Alexander is among 12 returning Panthers from last year’s fourth-place team in the state tournament.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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It's been nearly two weeks since the puck dropped for the girls' hockey season opener. The powers of a year ago are expected to shine again for the 2012-13 season. Here is a quick glance at the teams in the south:

Apple Valley: The Eagles welcome back 18 letter winners from last year's squad that finished above .500. This season marks the 10th anniversary of their last state tournament appearance (2003). Senior goaltender Hailey Sampson (14-11-1, 2.48 goals-against average, .923 save percentage) will play a big role in how late into the season the Eagles will play.

Burnsville: Garnet Asmundson replaces longtime coach Bruce Anderson at the helm of the Blaze. It has suffered back-to-back losing seasons since winning the Class 2A consolation championship in 2010. Asmundson will be looking to regain that winning formula.

Eagan: A coaching change -- former North Star Tom Younghans replaces the tandem of co-coaches Scott Darwitz and Jeff Kolehmainen -- shouldn't keep the Wildcats from setting their sights on the state tournament. They went 22-5-3 a year ago, with two of the setbacks coming in the state tournament. Senior forward Megan Wolfe (44 goals-26 assists --70 points) is one of the top scorers returning in the South Suburban Conference.

Eastview: The Lightning only won nine games last season while averaging 2.4 goals per game. Scoring could be a problem for Herb Harvey's squad in 2012-13.

Farmington: The Tigers will try to improve on a 9-17-0 season in 2011-12 with a young group of players. Coach Jon Holmes only has three seniors on his roster.

Lakeville North: The Panthers return 12 skaters, including their top scorers, and their starting goalie from last year's fourth-place team in the state tournament. If they get more balanced scoring this year, they could improve on their 23-7-1 record from 2011-12.

Lakeville South: Natalie Darwitz enjoyed a successful initial season (21-6-1) at the helm of the Cougars, and expects it to continue. A young team and tough schedule could make last year's record tough to equal.

Northfield: The Raiders, coming off a sixth-place finish in the Missota Conference, are looking to move up in 2012-13. They only graduated one senior from last year's 9-16-1 squad.

Prior Lake: The Lakers will look to improve on a 5-19-2 season with a young but talented group. They don't have a senior on their roster.

Rosemount: The Irish finished in the middle of the pack in the South Suburban. The team yielded 3.8 goals per game while only averaging 2.5 per game last season. They will look to improve their scoring output this year.

Shakopee: Scoring won't be a problem for the Sabres. Their Division I tandem of seniors Amy Menke (42-20-62) and Lauren Hespenheide (26-24-50) will lead the high-scoring offense. The defensive unit will hold the key to the season.

Simley: Offense could be a problem for the Spartans after graduating two seniors who accounted for a large portion of their points. They should be solid in their own end with four defensemen and their No. 1 goalie back this season.

  • Top south metro teams

    1. Lakeville North

    2. Eagan

    3. Lakeville South

    4. Apple Valley

    5. Shakopee

    Top players

    G--Cassie Alexander, Lakeville North, sr.

    D--Kendra Goodrich, Rosemount, sr.

    D--Dani Sadek, Lakeville North, jr.

    F--Lauren Hespenheide, Shakopee, sr.

    F--Amy Menke, Shakopee, sr.

    F--Megan Wolfe, Eagan, sr.

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