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Girls' hockey: Wolfpack hope to improve with up-tempo approach

Mackenzie Husaby is off to a strong start for the Wolfpack this season. RiverTown Multimedia file photo

Park has been mixing things up on the ice of late with a new approach.

Wolfpack girls' hockey coach Steve Morse has the players in new lines, playing a more up-tempo style than they've done in the past. He said it's been an adjustment for them, but he believes it will pay off.

"We've got a lot of quick players. Speed will be an asset this year," Morse said. "The girls are going to have a lot of opportunities to get on the board."

Mackenzie Husaby and Tina Press have strong starts with three goals apiece in three games for the Wolfpack this season. Park has upped its offense overall from 1.7 goals per game last season to three goals per game this year.

"It's faster [and] it's more fun," Morse said.

Park has also pressured some quality teams early in the season too. The Wolfpack had a tie with Class A power South St. Paul Nov. 14 before falling 4-3.

"We [also] played a real strong White Bear Lake team and held the lead into the third period," Morse said.

Park led 2-1 going into the third period against the Bears Nov. 21, but the Bears rallied with five goals to win 6-2. Morse said penalty trouble played a role in his team's downswing.

Nonetheless, Morse believes this year's Wolfpack team can compete in the Suburban East Conference and make some noise in Class 2A Section 3. The Wolfpack have a goal of earning a home game in the section tournament.

While Park has implemented a new style of play, the skaters executing it have varsity experience already. The Wolfpack only graduated two players from last year's varsity team.

"We have most key players back," Morse said.

That includes Press, a senior forward who has a team-leading five points with three goals and two assists through three games. Press had seven goals and nine assists as a junior, the team's leading scorer.

"She's just an overall leader, hard-worker and makes a lot of things happen out there," Morse said.

Husaby, a sophomore forward, has already come halfway to her goal total from last year when she had six goals and four assists. Fellow sophomore forward Adie Stienke has emerged in the young season already matching her assist total of three as a freshman.

Sophomore defender Maddy Bloedel has doubled her assist total this year with two assists after having one as a freshman. Senior defender Jess Juhl and sophomore forward Alli Lentz both have two points apiece already after having just three last winter.

Park has a new starting goalie who has been holding her own so far. Sophomore netminder Jocelyn Veary has an 0.862 save percentage and 75 saves in three games. She played just 51 minutes last season behind graduated goaltender Bryce Boreen.

Veary will face many more strong teams similar to White Bear Lake in the Suburban East Conference, but she will have a Wolfpack team around her pushing the puck to the other end. Morse noted that their puck possession time has increased already this season.

"They've been open to it [and] embracing it," Morse said about the new style of play.

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