Fairmont Area opens girls hockey season at Albert Lea
FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Area girls hockey team’s equipment managers will have their work cut out for them sharpening skate blades during the next couple of weeks.
Fourth-year head coach Ashley Olson and her youthful Cardinals roster open the season tonight by traveling to Albert Lea to run a five-game gauntlet before Thanksgiving.
Fairmont Area plays host to Mankato East in its home-opener at 7 p.m. Thursday night at Martin County Arena, hits the road to All Seasons Arena in Mankato for a 1 p.m. clash with Mankato West on Saturday, returns to Fairmont for a Big South Conference clash with Waseca at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, before traveling to Blue Mound Ice Arena in Luverne for a 5:30 p.m. first part of a girls-boys doubleheader on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
“My hope for our season-opener against Albert Lea is to play three solid periods of hockey,” said Olson. “We finally have the numbers and depth in our lineup to give a few more breaks to our top two lines. That hasn’t been an option in the past couple of years and it takes a toll over the course of a season.”
Olson will open the current campaign with freshman Hadley Artz between the pipes after the then-eighth-grader produced a career-best 45 saves during the No. 7-seeded Cardinals’ 3-2 double-overtime loss to No. 2-seeded Marshall in the opening round of the Section 3 playoffs last February.
“Hadley delivered a huge game in net to keep us in last year’s sectional game against Marshall,” Olson said in reference to the Tigers’ staggering 48-19 shots-on-goal advantage during the playoff clash. “Hopefully, we can carry over a little of that momentum into our game with Albert Lea (tonight), as well as some of the positives coming out of a couple of good scrimmages on Saturday against Austin and (Rochester) Mayo.”
Offensively, Olson will turn to co-captains Mackenzie Householder, a sophomore, and senior Joni Becker, along with hard-skating junior Tegan Roskop, to form the Cardinals’ first attacking line in tonight’s nonconference clash in Albert Lea.
Householder, Fairmont Area’s only all-Big South selection during the 2018-19 season, and Becker return after packing a formidable 1-2 scoring punch last winter. Householder tallied 15 goals and distributed 14 assists, while Becker produced 10 goals and nine helpers a year ago.
“It’ll be quite a change to have more than a couple full offensive lines this season,” said Olson.
Olson will rely on sophomore Macy Militello, sophomore Alexis Newville, junior Brooklyn Meyer, freshman Corene Moeller and eighth-grade newcomer Shaye Dietz to anchor her defense.
Meyer returns after generating five goals and four assists a year ago, Militello chipped in two goals and two helpers, while Alexis Newville distributed three assists.
“We’re looking for good team play, and the rest of our lines will vary as the season progresses,” said Olson.
Freshman Hannah Goerndt returns to the ice after netting four goals and two assists in 2018-19, sophomore Emily Sokoloski delivered three goals and two helpers, while junior Jonissa Neitzel added two goals and an assist.
Olson also looks for eighth-grader Bella Larson to contribute to the Cardinals’ offensive effort.
Sophomore goalie Rachel O’Connor, freshman forward Chantel Moeller and the eighth-grade forward foursome of Jozie Hoefker, Alex Martin, Jayda Healey and Karissa Newville round out the Cardinals’ roster.
“The girls have been working hard the past couple of weeks and are motivated to get the season underway,” said Olson.