Defense, scoring depth to prove pivotal for Marlin girls in state tournament

After closing out the season with two losses to Rushmore, the Marlins open up the state tournament taking on Rushmore for the third time in a row.

Mitchell's Reese Amick handles the puck during a varsity girls hockey game against Watertown on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at the Premier Center in Sioux Falls.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

MITCHELL — The Mitchell Marlins girls hockey team has a bit of an unusual circumstance heading into the state tournament.

After closing out the season with two losses to Rushmore, the Marlins open up the state tournament taking on Rushmore for the third time in a row.

Rushmore, the No. 4 seed in the state tournament, went 8-6-1-1 on the season and gained 18 points, while Mitchell went 8-7-0-1, earning 17 points and the No. 5 seed.

“I take it as an advantage for us,” coach Chris Tronnes said about playing Rushmore again. “It’s hard to beat any team three times in a row. … The things that we've learned from watching them and hopefully a bit of motivation from losing those two games, I think it's a little bit of an advantage for us.”

Defense has been one of the biggest strengths for Mitchell this season. Anchored on the backend by senior netminder Sadie Kludt, who posted a .879 save percentage and a 3.12 goals against average for the Marlins this season.


Tronnes said Kludt has “really turned it on” in the second half of the season, keeping the Marlins in games with her play in net. But in front of her, the defensive unit has been a positive and gotten contributions from the likes of seventh-grader Virginia Wyatt and sophomore Katelynn Laufman, who have each stepped into larger roles this season.

And that defense will be a key to spurring Mitchell should the Marlins make a tournament run.

“Strong defensive play will be the biggest thing,” Tronnes said. “If we can limit teams to two or three goals, we have the offensive ability to score more than that.”

On the offensive side, the Marlins are powered by Brynlee Sabers, Makenna Tronnes and Reese Amick. The trio combined for 61 of the teams 71 goals, with Sabers netting a league-high 31, Makenna Tronnes adding 17 and Amick picking up 13. But Chris Tronnes said the Marlins boast more depth on the offensive end than the stat sheet would indicate.

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Sabers has been playing hockey since she was little, and this season, the freshman is on a fast track to etching her name into the Mitchell Marlins’ history books.

“We have balance. Now, it doesn't always pan out that way. But we have a lot of girls on the team that have the ability to score,” he said. “So, we put it together for a weekend, you never know what's going to happen.”

Chris Tronnes noted that getting offensive pressure from the second line and players outside of their top goal scorers is going to be another key for the Marlins to advance in the state tournament.

Last season, the Marlins finished second at the state tournament, and Tronnes said despite having a younger team going to state this year, the confidence is high and the goal is to finish the season on a high note, adding that if they play a complete game, the Marlins can hang with anybody.

“Anything higher than what we went in is always good,” Chris Tronnes said about where he’s looking to place in state. “We want to be in the top three. Obviously, No. 1 is the goal, but top three for sure.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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