Marlins girls ready for stateLast season, the Mitchell Marlins girls’ hockey team made it to the state championship game, only to fall to Brookings.
By: Kevin Pottebaum, The Daily Republic
Last season, the Mitchell Marlins girls’ hockey team made it to the state championship game, only to fall to Brookings.
This year, the Marlins are looking to get over the hump to bring home a state title.
The varsity girls’ state tournament is this weekend in Aberdeen. The first round begins on Friday and the championship game will take place on Sunday.
Mitchell will take on Sioux Falls at 3 p.m. on Friday in the first round.
Mitchell finished the regular season 16-5, with one loss coming in overtime to finish with 33 points. That total earned the Marlins the third seed at the state tournament.
“We figured we might be second (seed),” head coach Eric Hohn said. “But we ended up third, because we lost one game to a team that we didn’t think we’d lose to.”
Mitchell’s 33 points were only three shy of the top seed, earned by Brookings with an 18-3 record (36 points). Rushmore got the second seed after finishing 17-3-1 to end with 35 points.
Hohn hopes that the Marlins’ first line can have a big weekend, and he feels that his team’s performance will seal its fate.
“If you take away our first line, we don’t have much for goal scorers,” Hohn said. “If they don’t have a good weekend, I don’t see us having a good weekend.”
The first line for Mitchell consists of the top three point scorers in the league. Haley Stahl led the league with 72 points, Anna Rice was second with 69 points and Lindsey Lawrence finished third in the league with 65 points.
Rice’s 40 goals were best in the league, while Lawrence recorded the most assists on the season with 41.
“This whole state tournament kind of comes down to them,” Hohn said. “They either put up the points and win, or we don’t get very far.
“If they get to clicking, you can’t really stop them.”
Stahl knows that the team relies heavily on the first line but doesn’t think that it puts too much pressure on the girls.
“I think everybody is pretty confident,” Stahl said.
She thinks that the memories from last season’s runner-up finish can help push the team.
“We’re pretty excited coming off of last year,” she said. “Just getting second makes us want to come back even harder.”
When asked about the first line’s success, Stahl credits the time the girls have spent together.
“We hang out all the time, and we’ve known each other for years and we’ve always skated together,” she said. “The chemistry has always been there.”
One of the keys to this weekend for the Marlins could be goalie Hannah Spates.
Spates and Cara Beck have both gotten playing time in net for the Marlins this season, but Beck was in goal for the JV team during its state tournament, so Hohn will go with Spates for the varsity tournament.
“When she’s on, Hannah is one of the better goalies in the state,” Hohn said.
The team will continue to practice through today in preparation for the state tournament.
“You don’t change too much going into state,” Hohn said. “You’ve got what you got.”
As for the mental aspect heading into the state tournament, Hohn feels that his team is ready.
“Everybody seems to be in good spirits and excited to play,” he said. “They’re not showing too many nerves.”
“I think we can do it but it will be tough,” Stahl said. “I’m pretty stoked and I hope we come out big.”
State tournament seeds
1 — Brookings; 2 — Rushmore; 3 — Mitchell; 4 — Oahe; 5 — Watertown; 6 — Sioux Falls; 7 — Huron; 8 — Aberdeen.
Brookings vs. Aberdeen; Rushmore vs. Huron; Mitchell vs. Sioux Falls; Oahe vs. Watertown.