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Eagle girls return a young squad

File photo by Steve Muscatello Senior McKenna Strong is a key returning players for the Eagles this season.

By Jim Bastian

Journal Sports Writer

NEW ULM — New Ulm High School head girls’ hockey coach Kristin Faber, who begins her eighth season as head coach of the Eagles, thinks that this year’s team has some spots to fill after an 18-7 mark last year.

“We have some big holes to fill because of our losses through graduation,” she said. “But last year a lot of our first-year players gained experience that we hope to see this year. A lot of them were freshmen and sophomores, so I am exicted to see what those second-year players can do and what our two seniors (Morgan Klein and McKenna Strong) can contribute on the leadership end of things.”

The Eagles will also have eight juniors.

“We will still be young (eight juniors, three sophomores, six freshmen and three eighth graders), but I say that every year. But I am looking forward to what this group can do. There is a lot of youthful skill that we will see this year.”

Faber’s biggest concern will be finding scorers to replace Morgan Klein, who scored 22 goals and added 11 assists, and Jayda Helget, who added 12 goals and 17 helpers.

“Between Molly, Jayda, Ally Steffensmeier (11-10) and Alexa Steffl (9-15), we lost scoring,” Faber said. “Molly and Jayda put a lot of pucks in the net and had a lot of assists. We have holes to fill and we are going to have to have girls on the defensive end of things to step up and into those roles and see growth out of the defensive end.”

Faber sees McKenna Strong as a solid player on defense.

“She has been there and Emma Brudelie, who has been playing at the varsity level for a couple of years,” Faber said. “You add in Evie Sellner, who played quite a few minutes last year as a freshman. We are also looking at Emma Schieffert and Ashley Schaefer, so we will see what happens in practice with them.”

One spot that Faber does not have a concern about is in goal where now eighth-grader Ava Brennan returns for her second year as starter.

Last season Brennan posted a 1.38 goals-against average and a save percentage of .895.

“She (Brennan) was a big question mark going into last year with no varsity experience,” Faber said of Brennan. “But she suprised a lot of people. She is so calm back there — things do not rattle her at all. She is going to be a big part of our success this season.”

Faber looks to New Ulm along with Marshall and Worthington in the Big South Conference, with Mound-West Tonka the pick in the section.

And this year, in addition to wearing masks, there is the possibility of all teams playing in front of no fans at games.

“You always like to have fans and we have had good fan suppprt but we have to take care of what we can take care of,” Faber said. “It will be different. The masks will take a while as we wear a helmet and mouthguard too. The masks may mean shorter shifts on the ice than usual.”

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