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Girls hockey: Tigers optimistic after trip

Last weekend’s trip to Hibbing produced some welcome optimism for the Farmington girls hockey team.

Coming off a 5-19-2 season, the Tigers opened the 2013-14 campaign by playing competitively in four scrimmages at Hibbing Memorial Arena. They scored a win over Chisago Lakes and a tie against Hibbing on Friday night, and came back Saturday with a 2-0 loss to defending Class 2A state champion Minnetonka before wrapping up the trip with a victory over Eveleth.

“We were pleasantly surprised by how we ended up. I didn’t know if we would click right away. We’ve got some things to work on, for sure, but the trip brought out a lot of optimism for the first part of the year,” Farmington coach Jon Holmes said. “The girls worked hard. I think we have a real blue-collar team that knows how to play and work together. If they do that we’ll be okay.”

The team’s defense emerged as a strength during the scrimmages. Captain Scootie Donnelly heads up the group, which also features returning players Brooke Raske, Rachael Welzin, Dani Wright and Tyler Words. Experience will also be a strength in front of the net where Maddie Bowe (374 saves, 4.10 GAA) and Molly Singewald (262 saves, 2.80 GAA) split time a season ago.

“Our defensive core is solid. They stop the puck well, but they can also get into the rush and make our offense tick. They’re one of our major strengths,” Holmes said. “Both goalies got some varsity time and both looked solid.”

The team’s biggest question mark entering the season will be at the forward spots. The Tigers produced just 40 goals in 26 games a season ago, and nearly half those were scored by the trio of seniors lost to graduation. Returning to the mix are all-conference selection Michaela Tonsager (6 goals, 4 assists), Megan Stivers, Maddie Oines (5 goals, 4 assists), Kaitlyn LaCroix, Breanna Raske and Shelby Klotz, a converted defensive player. Klotz provided a spark during the Hibbing trip, as did eighth-grade newcomer Ellie Moser, who Holmes said scored several goals.

Other newcomers vying for varsity time include Emma Record, Halea Wright and Maddie Yousse.

The Tigers open the season tomorrow night with a road trip to Hastings to take on the Raiders in a non-conference game.