by Samantha Lefebvre
Anoka-Hennepin’s CI (cognitive impaired) adapted floor hockey team opened its state title defense with a 13-0 victory over Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka at the Andover YMCA, Jan. 19.
Senior Tyler Kurkowski started off with the first goal of the game at the seven minute mark. Then with less than two minutes left in the first period, the Mustangs scored four times.
Kurkowski took a shot from mid-court and slid the puck into the goal. Twenty seconds later freshman Austin Fraser scored his first goal of the game boosting the Mustangs to a 3-0 lead. With forty seconds left in the first period Kurkowski shot the puck past Robins’ goalie, Aimir Habibovich, off of a penalty faceoff shot. Kurkowski scored another goal 10 seconds later, making it his forth goal in the first period and the Mustangs fifth at the end of the first period.
The Mustangs went on to score six times in the second period, still holding the Robins at zero and boosting their score to 11-0.
The Mustangs finished off the third period adding two more points throwing them in to a 13 point shutout.
“Obviously there is nothing to complain about,” Mustang head coach Bill Newell said. “The kids played hard and we found a few surprises of kids who haven’t played in the past that actually played pretty well that will be able to help us out in the future.”
Kurkowski scored a total of six goals, making him the Mustangs lead scorer. Fraser scored two goals. Junior Jeff Shogren got of to an outstanding start in goal for the Mustangs, stopping every shot on goal.
Newell said that not only do Kurkowski and other top scorers on the team lead the team in points, but they also lead the team in support and leadership.
“Not only are these kids really good athletes but they are just nice good people,” said Newell. “They are good teammates and they want to make sure that everybody has success. Yet we could have scored a lot more goals against them if we really wanted to and let those guys in but they know enough that they are going to help the kids that aren’t as strong out there and don’t have as much experience they are going to help them to be a success too and that is what I like seeing.”
The win against the Robins boosted the Mustangs incredible winning streak. Their last loss in either sport occurred over two years ago, during the 2009 state soccer semifinals against Park Center.
Anoka-Hennepin’s CI team has won six straight state championships since then. Their most recent title came this fall during the soccer season, when they narrowly beat St. Cloud Area 3-2 for the championship at Stillwater High School.
The Mustangs have won two state titles in each of the three adapted sports; floor hockey, softball, and soccer. They look forward to adding more state titles, including a third floor hockey title to their collection this year.
“Our ultimate goal is to get to the state tournament and get that third one,” said Newell. “That’s all these kids’ goal and that is what they are looking forward too. So we’ll do the best we can and we’ll see at the end of the year how we end up against the rest.”
The Mustangs CI team only has a few more practices left before they are thrown into the season full blast.
“We are ready for the season,” said Newell. “I think we will be very strong but there is always a surprise along the way that you never quite know until you have played all the games.”
The Mustangs second game of the season will be against Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville on Jan. 24 at the Andover YMCA.
The Anoka-Hennepin Mustangs PI (physically impaired) team starts their floor hockey season Feb. 6 against Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka at Blaine High School.