Ex-Wild player Walz stresses the little things to East Ridge girls' hockey

  • Article by: AARON PAITICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 7, 2013 - 6:13 PM

A former Wild player is stressing little things to an improving East Ridge girls’ hockey team.

hide

East Ridge coach Wes Walz spoke with senior defender Kayla Griffith after she came off the ice in the second period Tuesday night against Stillwater. The Ponies handed East Ridge its first loss, 5-2.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER ‘• jeff.wheeler@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

Through the first six games last season, the East Ridge girls’ hockey team was outscored 24-3. Former NHL and Minnesota Wild winger Wes Walz, known as a fierce competitor, then took over the program midseason.

“You want to be a difficult team to play against,” Walz said. “It used to be teams would come in and score 10 goals or eight goals against us.

“It’s not so much that way anymore.”

Not so much, indeed. The Raptors allowed just 10 goals in their first seven games while posting a 6-1 record early this season.

It’s far different from the sluggish start last fall, when East Ridge worked its way to a 10-14-2 overall mark and 8-8-2 record in the Suburban East Conference. Walz and then-co-head coach Tim Fink were named Class 2A, Section 3 coaches of the year.

Rachel Rollins has been playing varsity since she was a freshman. Now a senior, Rollins is enjoying the program’s best start. She credits the coaching staff.

“They take a lot of time to work on the little things with us that make a big difference,” Rollins said. “We’ve become much more disciplined.”

They’re taking shorter shifts, which has helped the girls keep their legs fresh for the third period. The third periods have been dominated by the Raptors so far.

The team has adopted a defense-first mentality, which includes a lot of video analysis.

“If defending or keeping the puck out of the net isn’t your first priority, then you do not have a chance to really be successful,” Walz said. “Our girls have really understood exactly what we want in our own zone.”

This is the fifth year of the school and hockey program. Consisting of mostly underclassmen throughout the program’s brief existence, the team is maturing physically and mentally into a winner.

“Everybody that’s watched us says it looks like a different team,” Walz said. “The girls that are involved in the program, whether it’s JV or varsity, they should be proud of what’s happened because it’s been a quick turnaround here.”

Sophomore Erin Cheatham has stepped up in goal.

“She’s an outstanding talent,” Walz said. “She’s still very young and has to work on some of the finer points, but she works very hard and it’s been a joy trying to help her in her game. She’s a really good goalie.”

There are plenty of Raptors who can contribute offensively, including Jaedyn Walz, Anya Hafiz, Kayla Griffith, Jessie Anderson, Katie Scheibner, Brooklyn Pierre, Hannah Johnson and Cara Kaufer.

“I wouldn’t say there’s a superstar,” Rollins said. “We all pull our weight.”

The Raptors lost just two players from last year’s team. These are the signs of a ripening program and a group of girls who are having fun.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 2:30 PM
LA Clippers
Boston 6:00 PM
Washington
Orlando 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Memphis 6:30 PM
Miami
Indiana 7:00 PM
Brooklyn
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Chicago
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Utah
New York 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Detroit 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Carolina 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Boston 6:00 PM
Columbus
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Washington 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Nashville
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Arizona
Chicago 8:00 PM
Colorado
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 11:00 AM
Georgetown
Maine 11:00 AM
Seton Hall
UNC-Wilmington 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Georgia State 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville St 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Kentucky 1:00 PM
Louisville
Northern Ky 2:00 PM
Northwestern
UAB 3:00 PM
North Carolina
IUPUI 3:00 PM
Pepperdine
Santa Clara 3:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Oakland 4:00 PM
Maryland
Gonzaga 5:00 PM
BYU
Mercer 5:00 PM
Georgia
San Francisco 5:00 PM
Pacific
Wright State 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Presbyterian 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Tennessee
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
UNLV
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
SMU 12:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
UCF 2:00 PM
Houston
BYU 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 4:00 PM
San Francisco
St Marys-CA 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
San Diego 7:00 PM
Portland
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close