Competing in its second season of existence, the Robbinsdale Armstrong-Cooper girls' hockey co-op is enjoying some success in the standings.

The team entered this week ranked 16th in Class 2A with a 12-6-2 record. The victory total already doubles the number from all of last season.

Junior forward Marissa Odell entered this week leading the team with 19 goals and 34 points. A varsity hockey player since the eighth grade, Odell helped the team to a 6-3 mark during the first leg of the Northwest Suburban Conference schedule.

Armstrong/Cooper started the second leg 1-1-1. Odell spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about the team's strong start, an accident that kept her out of three games and the keys to finishing the season strong.

Q What are some of the reasons for your team's success so far this season?

A I feel like we're more into winning. We don't accept losing anymore. We look forward to getting on the ice every day and getting better every practice.

Q You're not a captain but in what ways do you offer leadership?

A It was really frustrating knowing I wasn't a captain but I said to myself, 'It doesn't matter if I have a C on my jersey or not, I'm still going to play a big role on this team.' I lead by example but I also talk in the locker room just as much as everyone else. Everyone is a leader on our team somehow, some way.

Q You missed three games after taking eight stitches in your ankle. What happened?

A It happened one Friday night as I was leaving the locker room. A skate got kicked and I was standing close enough where it nicked me on the ankle and I was wearing Capri pants. I told them I didn't want to go to the hospital but I realized how much it was bleeding. It was the first time I ever had stitches and it was the first time I missed a high school hockey game.

Q So you're on the bench for Coon Rapids, Andover and Maple Grove but then you come back and get 10 points in your first three games back. Did you have a little spark coming back because the game had been taken away from you?

A Yeah, it was really a wake-up call. It proved how much I want to be on the ice and how much I wanted to help the team. I was actually playing through pain for a while. The ankle just stopped hurting last week.

Q You've struggled a little on your second run through the Northwest Suburban Conference portion of the schedule. What's going on?

A Well, during winter break everyone was sick or staying up late. We were out of our normal routine. Sometimes we didn't have the right lineup. During the Maple Grove game we had three players out including me. But we were down to Anoka 3-0 [on Jan. 12] and came back to tie them 5-5 so we proved we wanted it.

Q Is your lineup getting back to full strength?

A Yeah, all of us are doing well. We're getting healthy, finally. I think we're looking forward to this week but we also have finals so we have to stay focused and get our rest with all the studying going on.

David La Vaque • 612-673-7574