Season's End Drawing Near For Novas in Girls Hockey
Minneapolis girls hockey team falls at Blake on Monday; possible section preview on tap Thursday night.
It hasn't been the kind of year that coach John Wareham had hoped for his Minneapolis girls hockey team as the youthful Novas entered the final week of the regular season with an 8-0 loss at Blake on Monday night.
"We've been struggling to score this year," he said. "Even in our wins, we've only scored two goals each — except for one win where we only had one goal."
The Novas struggled to put the puck on net once again against the Bears, only mustering up its tenth shot of the game in the matchup's final seconds.
However, Minneapolis goaltender Hannah Hilden-Reid had one of her finer games in spite of giving up eight goals as the Minneapolis Southwest junior made 54 saves while facing some of the best shots that the second-ranked team in Class A had to offer.
"She had a great game tonight, she's played great all year," Wareham said. "I'm glad she'll be back next year."
Hilden-Reid backstops what Wareham says has been the strength of the Novas this year—defense.
"The games that we hve won we've really gutted out," he said. "We've spent a lot of time working on how to play in our zone. If we're giving up more shots than we are taking, we want to make sure we aren't giving up 'dangerous' shots."
While the Novas are just 6-17 this season, counting Monday's loss at Blake — the team's second loss to the Bears in less than a week as this most recent matchup was a make-up game of a postponed contest from Dec. 11—Wareham said that he sees reasons to be positive for next year.
"It's a young team and I think our offense can come along if our kids keep working on their shots," he said. "With another year of experience, this offense could be better and then we could have that along with the defensive base that's here."
As far as the remainder of the 2010-11 campaign, the Novas are down to just two more regular season matchups—one of which should weigh heavily on Minneapolis' postseason plans.
"We've got the Blades coming up on Thursday," Wareham said. "That could be a preview of the Section 4AA play-in game, which should be kind of fun."
The St. Paul Blades are similar to the Novas, in that they are a cooperative effort involving all of the capitol city's high schools and sport a record (5-14-2) reminiscent of Minneapolis'.
St. Paul won the first meeting of the season between the squads, 5-3, at Phalen Arena on Dec. 2, meaning that a Novas win on Thursday night could net Minneapolis the higher seed and the right to host any prospective sectional opener between the clubs.