Marlins girls' hockey team leaning on its strong defenseThe Mitchell Marlins girls’ hockey team is one of the top offensive units in the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association.
By: Justin Rust, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Marlins girls’ hockey team is one of the top offensive units in the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association.
But the Marlins’ defensive play has been just as prolific.
Mitchell has allowed 50 goals this year, which is tied for the second fewest goals against in the eight-team league. The Marlins are tied with Pierre in the category behind Brookings, which leads the league with 24 goals allowed.
The Marlins’ defense has helped the team to the second-best record in the SDAHA at 16-4, and the Marlins are waiting to hear if three of their key defensive players — goalie Hannah Spates and defensemen Cami Rauscher and Morgan Griebel — will be named to the all-state team.
If Rauscher is selected to the all-state team, it will be the senior’s sixth honor of her career. Rauscher has been a team captain for the past four years and Marlins’ coach Eric Hohn said she is the anchor of the team.
“She’s been a leader since I have been here for the last three years,” he said. “She keeps the team motivated and in line.”
Rauscher doesn’t have the typical stats for a defenseman, though. She is fourth on the team in points after scoring 19 goals and recording 19 assists during the season. Plus, she has only racked up four penalty minutes all season.
However, Rauscher doesn’t take too many risks with the puck. She just knows when to take her chances, Hohn said.
“She’s really not that fast, but she is really smart and a really good puck handler,” he said. “She knows when to take it up and to take the chance. As for puck control, it’s really hard to get it away from her, and she has one of the better shots in the league for a defenseman.”
As much as Rauscher’s stats stand out for the position she plays, she is just as valuable on the defensive end.
“There aren’t too many pucks that get by her,” Hohn said. “Since there is no checking in girls’ hockey, you have to be more strategic. She cuts down the angles, and it’s amazing how she gets the puck away from the other players.”
Rachelle Zimmer joins Rauscher on the top line, and Hohn said Zimmer’s game has come a long way this year.
Griebel leads the Marlins’ second defensive line and is new to the team this year. Griebel lives in Parkston and her family moved there from hockey-rich Minnesota two years ago. Griebel decided to take a year off from hockey, though, but she is starting to regain her form at the right time, Hohn said.
“Morgan has been a good addition to the team,” he said. “It’s been an adjustment for her, but she has finally found her role on the team.”
Griebel is following Rauscher’s lead and is finding ways to score. She is fifth on the team with 14 points — nine goals and four assists. Ashley Murtha joins Griebel on the second line and the team’s other two defensemen are Cassidy Stucky and Karissa Beck, who was moved from forward earlier this year.
Even if the Marlins’ defensemen do let a shot by, Mitchell has one of the best goalies in league between the pipes. Spates has been in the net for 13 of the team’s 16 wins and has the second-best goals against average in the league at 2.12 a game.
“She has played great for us this year and has come a long ways since last year,” Hohn said. “She will be playing all the games in goal for us at the state tournament.”
Cara Beck backs up Spates and she helped lead the Marlins’ junior varsity team to a second-place finish at last week’s state tournament.
The Marlins’ defense helped Mitchell earn the second seed in this weekend’s SDAHA state tournament in Pierre, Hohn said.
“It doesn’t matter how much you score, you have to keep the other team from scoring,” he said. “You can’t give up five or six goals, because the puck won’t always get in the back of the net for you.
“If you can hold a team to one or two goals, you are doing well.”