Coach: Derek Johnson
Outlook: Losing a top scorer from a team that went 2-9 typically doesn’t mean expectations for the season should be much higher, but experience from one more offseason with a new offense and defense might be enough to lift the Huskies from the bottom of the Northwest Suburban Conference.
Andover returns junior captains Katie Ruprecht, Kaeili Kraker and senior captain Abbey Eliason. Ruprecht and Kraker have played together for many years and have established a chemistry on the field that will help Andover generate more on both offense and defense. Eliason will be the anchor of the defense and a player Johnson looks forward to guiding the defensive sets.
Johnson, who is in his second year leading the Huskies, said the chemistry and connection among the team is better than one year ago.
“We are a very young team that has to have time to build experience,” he said. “Last year we focused on implementing a new offense and defense which put the girls into position to be competitive in their games.”
Coach: Kala Buganski
Outlook:First-year head coach Kala Buganski was a four-year hockey player at Minnesota State University, Mankato and played lacrosse and rugby in the off-season.
Buganski served under girls’ hockey coach Pete Hayes this season and brings with her three familiar Anoka faces to join her staff including Shawn Pietsch (five years of hockey coaching in the Anoka Area Hockey Association) along with college and Anoka lacrosse alumni Cody Beckes (University of North Dakota) and Sophie Anderson (UW-Stout).
Buganski inherits a team that went 4-3 in the Northwest Suburban Conference and was 6-8 overall last spring, but returns senior attack Katie Johnson who piled up 40 goals and 14 assists, teammate Crystal Marshall added 25 points (14 goals) and returning goalie Katey Burkey should provide stability to the backline.
The Tornadoes downed Hill Murray in the section opener 19-14 before losing to state powerhouse Stillwater 23-7.
Coach: Jeff DeJoy
Outlook:Coon Rapids fell one win shy of its first state tournament last season as it posted a program-best 14-3 record and lost to Stillwater in the Section 4 final in a high-scoring affair 18-11. The Cardinals have gradually added wins each season, starting with three in 2009 followed by 13 in 2010 and 14 in 2011. “We hope to continue that pattern,” DeJoy said.
The four-year-old program returns perhaps its strongest line-up on paper led by All-State junior attacking wing Sammi DeJoy, who had 69 points (57 goals) last season. Five All-Northwest Suburban Conference selections return, including DeJoy while only two graduated.
Senior forward Amanda Michalski had 63 points (48 goals), Briana Havelka, a senior attacking wing and captain, had 50 points (32 goals), Libby Storrick, a senior defenseman, had 17 points (11 goals) and Katie Wolter, a senior centerman, had 39 points (29 assists).
“The pieces are there, but it is just a matter of clicking at the right time,” DeJoy said.
Blaine and Spring Lake Park/St. Anthony didn’t reply for this preview.
Compiled by Jason Olson