NEW ULM - To say that the New Ulm Eagles girl's hockey team has a lot of experience coming back from last year's 14-13-1 record and a fifth trip to the Minnesota State High School hockey tournament may be an understatement.
The Eagles will be the heavy favorites in the South Central Conference and also Section 3A.
"We lost two players but we gained five,"said head coach Kristin Faber, who is in her first season replacing Angie Zeig. "Our team is excited to get going. They are very eager to learn and working hard in practice, putting that effort forth that I like to see."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm senior Kali Denn will be one of the key defenders for the Eagles this season.
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With basically the entire Eagles squad back in tact from last season, Faber feels that the only growing pains comes in the coaching staff.
"But overall with the experienced players that we do have back it is easier to coach," she said." You have leaders who are stepping up and pushing the entire team. You have that experienced group that is also putting forth that effort and taking leadership roles."
One of the many players who are returning from last year's team is senior Kali Denn, who is one of six seniors who dot the 21-member roster.
"We need to focus on winning one game at a time and not looking at games two or three games down the road," Denn said. "I think that our team this year will not drop down when we play weaker teams and we will play to our ability. This team has the passion to play hockey - I honestly do not feel that we have any weakness on this team."
Faber knows that the team has goals that reach far beyond a conference or section title.
"We have high expectations for ourselves," Faber said. "We need to improve throughout the year is my biggest thing - you are never going to be good enough."
Denn knows that a trip to the state tournament is a realistic goal. But she also knows that getting to the state means that the need a positive attitude when they get there.
"We have to know that we can beat those teams if we go there and play our hardest," Denn said.
The Eagles will be tested in the regular season with tough non-conference games against Mankato West to get the season going and then contests against Willmar, a tournament in St. Cloud and then road games against Moose Lake and Eveleth-Gilbert. Eveleth-Gilbert is coached by former Eagles girl's hockey coach Dave Kunz.
"As a senior captain I would like to see my team go forward, win as many games as we can," Denn said.