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2013-14 Winter Preview: Young Park girls hockey team hungry for success

Park senior Emma Waller returns to help lead the Wolfpack this winter. (Bulletin file photo)

With just four seniors, the Park Wolfpack is a young girls hockey team.

“Hopefully, if we go out and compete, good things will happen,” Wolfpack coach Steve Morse said following an early-season loss to Burnsville.

The Wolfpack have three senior forwards in Paige Hill, Madison Nelson and Emma Waller. Hill and Nelson had the most points among them with seven each last season. Returning sophomore forward Maddy Jeske can also give them some offense. She had six points as a freshman, and she has the lone goal for the team in the first three games this season.

The Wolfpack have kept two of their three games close so far. They lost to North St. Paul after trailing 2-0 for most of the game before an empty-netter at the end on Nov. 12. The Wolfpack also fell 1-0 to East Ridge on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

“We expect them to work hard, improving every night,” Morse said.

The Wolfpack struggled against the high-powered Burnsville team in a 6-1 loss, but there’s a little more parity in the Suburban East Conference as the East Ridge game indicated. The Wolfpack went 8-17-1 overall last year and finished 4-13-1 in SEC play.

The team will be without senior defender Anna Keys, who will play Div. I hockey for Minnesota State-Mankato next year. Keys is out for the season with a knee injury suffered during the soccer season. She will however, serve as a team captain and provide leadership on the bench.

Returning junior defenders in Alyssa Wickenhauser, Sam Anderson and Meg Ackerman will help the Wolfpack on the defensive end. They also will also look to sophomores Dani Perry to help on that end of the ice.

Overall, the Wolfpack have six sophomore and two freshmen on the team. Such youth will provide a challenge on getting the puck in the net. They have already gone scoreless in two of three games this season. Having graduated Mary Turitto and her 34 points last season doesn’t help either.

“It will be a challenge, probably, trying to find a way to score goals,” Morse said.

They can shoot, however. They had 26 shots against North St. Paul and 19 against Burnsville.

The Wolfpack also have a new goaltender this season with Paige Press in net. She stopped 23 shots against North St. Paul and 36 against Burnsville.

Things will not get much easier for the Wolfpack soon. Early December will bring a challenging pair of games with Mounds View on Dec. 3 and South St. Paul on Dec. 5. Both teams had been to the state tournament last season.

—Matthew Davis