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Girls hockey: Goal is more goals for the Farmington Tigers

Captains (left to right) Haleigh Zwart, Grace Gavin and Haley Doll are back to lead the Farmington girls hockey team this season. The Tigers are hoping these returning players will help boost the offense for a team that went 9-17 last season.

Farmington is hoping for improved offensive output after scoring 20 goals in four games in Hibbing. This week we talked to Jon Holmes, head coach of the Farmington High School girls hockey team, about the team's upcoming season.

Last year's team slipped to 9-17 after back-to-back Missota Conference championships. In what areas does the team need to improve the most to put more games back in the win column this winter?

The area we need to address most is scoring. Last year we averaged just over a goal and a half a game. Needless to say scoring a goal a game doesn't put you in a position to win too many games. We return one of our top scorers in Junior Haley Doll and we will look to her again to be among the top point getters. But we also bring back seniors Grace Gavin and Haleigh Zwart who both have the talent and capabilities to be among the top point earners in the conference. Another senior addition is the return of Rachael Peroutky this year after playing a year with the Thouroughbreds. This will be a big plus to our team and to our defensive core. In our scrimmages at Hibbing this past weekend we scored as many goals in four games as we did in nearly 20 last season. Although these are scrimmages it was a very pleasant sight.

Three of the four seniors you lost to graduation were defensive players. What returning players or newcomers are you expecting to contribute on that end?

Even after graduating three defensive seniors our defensive core will be one of our strong points this year. Our returners, Scootie Donnelly, Rachael Welzin and Rachael Peroutky all have logged many hours at the varsity level and have all come back this year after a great off season. Our newcomers to the varsity level, Shelby Klotz, Brooke Raske and Dani Wright have also all had strong offseasons and performed very well in Hibbing last weekend. We will be looking to all of these defense for solid performances night in and night out.

Jessica Erchul is also gone after serving as goaltender for the last five years. What is your outlook at that position?

Losing Erchul after five years is a definite hole that will need filling. Fortunately we have gained sophomore Maddie Bowe and eighth grader Molly Singewald. Both have fantastic attitdues and work ethic and I know they will be giving it their all to do their part in the nets this year for both the varsity and JV levels. Neither have any high school experience, varsity or JV, and so we will also need to rely on our strong defensive play to lead us through our first couple outings. But again, they both had strong performances at the varsity level this past weekend.

Doll is your only returning player to be named honorable mention all-conference last year. What are you expecting to see from her and who else could see time at the forward spots as you try to give the offense a boost?

Haley Doll is back and she has been looking very strong. Her shot has developed substantially and her hockey sense keeps getting better. We will be looking to her to help lead the team again this year both on and off the ice. We will also be looking to returning senior forwards, Haleigh Zwart and Grace Gavin (both captains) to lead us on and off the ice. Hopefully they will both have break out years as seniors and give us a boost in the points column. Grace Vincent, Michaela Tonsager, Madeline Oines and Brooke Raske along with newer varsity faces Shaye Jenrich and Megan Stivers to all help with both role playing and scoring.

What teams do you expect to be the favorites in the Missota Conference and Section 1AA?

I would expect to see Shakopee and Red Wing being the teams to beat this year in the conference. With Chaska and Channhassen staying in a co-op and hence being unable to compete in official conference play, their title will be up for grabs this year. I would also expect us to be in the mix among the top conference contenders by the end of the season as well.

In the section Lakeville North has to be the favorite again. With them not losing many and re-loading this year they will be tough to beat. Lakeville South will be right on their six however, and both teams will have a target on their back come playoff time.

What are your goals and expectations for the season?

We are focusing on short timelines for the beginning of the year. We have been actively setting goals for what practice should look like on a daily basis and have moved up to week one. We have not gotten to the point where we have put any long term team goals for the end of the year in writing as of yet. Hopefully this strategy will keep us focused on the here and now, and will get us ready for each shift, in every period, of whatever game we happen to be in.