2012-13 Winter Preview: Winter girls hockey team should take a step forward this seasonThe Woodbury girls hockey team may have a new head coach, but it returns the bulk of last year’s roster to the rink this winter.
By: Patrick Johnson, sports editor, Woodbury Bulletin
The Woodbury girls hockey team may have a new head coach, but it returns the bulk of last year’s roster to the rink this winter.
After two seasons as head coach Shantel Rivard stepped down following last year. Prior to coaching Woodbury, Rivard spent more than 10 years with some of the top collegiate hockey programs in the country. After a collegiate playing career with Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, Rivard began coaching in 1997 as an assistant coach for the University of Maine women’s hockey program and was eventually promoted to associate head coach. In 2002, Rivard was hired as the head coach of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux women’s hockey program.
However, last season, Woodbury battled a shortage of players and numerous injuries to key players and struggled to a 3-22-1 overall record, finishing last in the Suburban East Conference with a 2-16 mark.
Adding insult to injury, Woodbury’s season came to an end at the hands of rival East Ridge, 3-2 in the opening round of the Section 3AA playoffs.
The loss ended the high school hockey careers of two Woodbury seniors – captain and leading scorer Rachel Letsche and forward and team captain Jessica Krinke. Each player has been with the program since they were eighth graders.
This season, Woodbury is moving forward. Chris Lepper has taken the reins of the Royals and welcomes back a number of key players from last year’s roster, including junior forward Mandy McAlpine, freshman forward Livia Twohig and junior goalie Kaelyn Geisser. McAlpine and Twohig were Woodbury’s third- and fourth-leading scorers, respectively, last season. Geisser played in 23 games, going 3-18-1 with a .853 save percentage and 4.57 goals against average. Other key players returning to the club include: Kayla Falconer, Molly Burke, Libby Majerle, Erin Goodell, Sarah Wahlin, Ashley Krinke, Lauren Cotroneo and Cassie Morris. Senior defensive anchors Cotroneo and Burke and senior forward Caroline Joyce were elected team captains this season.
Lepper said he expected the teams to beat this year are Stillwater, Mounds View and Roseville in the Suburban East Conference, while Eagan, Apple Valley and Burnsville are likely the top teams in the section.
Woodbury has begun the season with a 1-2 record.
Six different players scored goals and Geisser stopped all 19 shots on goal as the Royals beat St. Louis Park 6-0 for its first win of the 2012-13 season. Most recently, Woodbury fell 3-1 to Tartan on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at Bielenberg Sports Complex. Falconer had the Royals’ lone goal of the game and Geisser made 26 saves in the loss.
Woodbury played its first conference game – at Roseville on Tuesday, Nov. 27, after the Bulletin went to print. The Raiders are the defending SEC champions and were ranked fifth in the state in last season’s final poll. Next, Woodbury takes on Mounds View on Saturday, Dec. 1. After that, Woodbury is looking forward to a rematch with East Ridge on Friday, Dec. 14, at Bielenberg.
“We have a young team with an outstanding work ethic and attitude,” Lepper said. “We’re looking to develop more scoring this year. The team should be more competitive with so many girls returning with experience from last year.”