Before the girls’ hockey season began Anoka and Blaine were the programs believed to be at the top of a deep Northwest Suburban Conference with Andover in the conversation along with Robbinsdale.
As it turns out, Andover was the top club in the area as it garnered its first conference championship with a 14-2-0 conference record (16-5-1 overall), losing once each to Anoka and Blaine.
Junior forward Mikayla Goodin leads the team with 37 points (19 goals) and Abbie Turpin is second on the team with 23 points (13 goals), but the offense is deeper than most teams with 10 players recording double-digit points.
On the opposite side of the rink, first-year varsity starter Maddie Rooney, a sophomore, has kept the team calm with a key save or two or three.
One season after backstopping the Andover bantam boys’ squad, she’s found a new home with the girls’ varsity squad.
“It’s been a fun and good experience for me coming in from the boys,” she said. The pace of the game and physical play are the major differences between boys’ and girls’ game, Rooney said.
Timing is everything for a goalie and the nuances in the girls’ game took some adjustment, but her 1.44 goals against average and .934 saves percentage show that Rooney, who looks up to Pittsburgh Penguins NHL goalie Marc Andre-Fleury the most, has been a stalwart between the pipes with a 16-5-1 record and six shutouts.
Rooney quickly adjusted to the game by focusing on the puck more and being patient, she said.
Not having bodies crashing in on her after a save is another plus in the girls’ game and she’s only picked up one penalty all season.
Off the ice she feels more comfortable with the girls, too. “It’s a lot louder [in the locker room] with the girls, but I like it better and feel more comfortable,” Rooney said.
Being able to go straight from school to practice is another perk, instead of practicing late at night or early mornings, she said.
And listening to some tunes before and after suiting up has helped with the transition, Rooney said.
“We have a play list and she loves Justin Bieber so when we turn it on she’s the one that goes all out,” Goodin said.
On the ice, Goodin gives a lot of the credit to Rooney for keeping the Huskies alive in games. “She’s a big help and helps keep us together when we’re falling apart,” Goodin said. “She’s made the key save at the right time.”
Rooney said two games that stood out in her mind so far are a 6-0 shutout of Anoka Dec. 1 and a 3-2 win over Blaine Jan 5. The Anoka win was the Tornadoes first loss of the season and they were ranked in the state’s top 10 at that point.
Beating the rival Blaine was even more of a highlight of the season and she made 17 saves in each game.
Rooney admitted the rivalry with Blaine is bigger because of the success of the Bengals.
“Keeping the Swanstroms [Katie and Sam] and [Kiersten] Falck out of the net was huge,” Rooney said.
The trio have amassed 142 points (75 goals) together and Falck is among the state’s top scorers with 62 points (40 assists).
To prepare for the high school season, Rooney was part of the USA Hockey summer select national camp in St. Cloud and played with the Minnesota Jr. Whitecaps which traveled to Vermont for a tournament last summer.
Junior class strength
Andover junior defenseman Sierra Langlie is part of a key group of Huskies who have grown from promising freshmen and sophomores into leaders on what has become a top club to beat in a tough conference and section.
“It’s awesome,” Langlie said about stepping into a leadership role. “I’ve always looked up at the older girls. It’s just fun to play with the girls because we get along so well. We’re all super good friends. Now that I’m older, I can have the younger girls look up to me as well.”
Langlie leads the team with a plus-18 player rating, but nine players have a plus-10 or higher rating, another sign of the Huskies’ depth.
The goal is always to be on the plus side, but Langlie said she credits hard work and the team’s ability to work together as a by-product of a strong rating.
Combine the juniors with a standout senior group including forwards Paige Dale, McKenzie Aguilar and Mariah Czech with defensemen Carly Haskins and Hannah Trom and the Huskies should be in contention for section crown.