The Northern Lakes Lightning is hoping to continue its steady improvement with six seniors and a new head coach when the season opened on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
The Lightning is then scheduled to open their home schedule against Mid-State Conference rival Park Rapids at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, at Breezy Point Arena.
Northern Lakes, which compiled a 4-1-1 record in its final six games, finished with a program high of nine wins, including beating Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs before losing to Alexandria 3-2 in the section semifinals.
Kirsten Harsha, an assistant coach from last year, has moved up head coach this winter after last year’s head coach Bryan Henrichs became the Breezy Point North Stars Junior hockey coach this season.
“The transition from assistant coach to head coach has been a very positive experience,” said Harsha, who will have Abby Kephart and Kelly Carlson as assistant coaches. “Everyone involved in the program has been very supportive. We have a solid group of girls returning including six strong seniors – forwards Alex Palm, Kaylyn Eggena, Sam Henrichs and Kim Jessen; defensman Morgan Demars; and goaltender Kat Jensen.
Eggena and Palm led the Lightning with 15 points each as Eggena scored seven times and Palm netted 11 goals. Jensen compiled a 2.62 goals-against average with a save percentage of 91.2.
“We will be competitive because we also have strong juniors, sophomores and freshmen,” Harsha said. “Plus we have two players who moved up from the 12-under team with Sam Gutzman and Ashley Kosloski.”
Other Northern Lakes players are juniors Erika Monson, defense, Sam Bittner and Courtney Kittock, forwards, and Hailey Deutsch, goaltender; sophomores Madison Galligan, goaltender, Mariah Reed, Megan Snyder and Carly Fyle, forwards, and Mikaela Florey and Stephanie DeGrote, defense; and freshmen Lexie Danielson, Brittney Knox, Britta Bittner, Allie Olson and Isabella Abear; and eighth graders Ashley Koslowski and Sam Gutzman.
Snyder and Reed each had 11 points last season as Snyder netted six goals while Reed had seven assists.
“We also have Johanna Rischka, who is a senior exchange student from Germany,” said Harsha. “She is learning a lot and always has a smile on her face.”