Girls’ high school previews

By Brian Kalisher –

University of Liggett Knights

The young Knights’ greatest strength is their willingness to learn and improve on the ice.  “The Knights are a very young hockey team compared to the other D1 teams in the league,” said coach Cassie Jaeckle. “Their eagerness to learn and do what it takes to put the hard work in to improve day in and day out will be key to their success this season.”  Seniors Haleigh Bolton and Haley Smith will be important leaders on and off the ice this season.  Other key players include juniors Aria Ganz-Waple and Chandler Warren, along with freshman goalie Jenna Pleva.

Ladywood Blazers

Coach Bruce Peck is expecting plenty of scoring from his Blazers squad this season.  “We do have some talented forwards that are going to have to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis,” Peck said.  The team is looking to Hannah Pereira, Lane Kolpacke, Rana Freij and Virginia Matherly to produce offensively.  Erin Doyle, Katie Folk and Brittany Galvin will enter their senior season anchoring a strong blue line for the Blazers. Peck said forming team chemistry from a mix of returnees and fresh faces will be crucial to Ladywood’s success.

Grosse Pointe North Norsemen

Playing a full game every night and being consistent are keys for the Norsemen this season, says coach Joe Lucchese.  Team defense from the goaltender all the way up to the forwards will be essential.  Key players include Jen Cusmano and Natalie Skorupski, who were both second-team all-state last year.  Other contributors will be Melissa Mermiges, Sara Villani, Julia Henderson, C.J. McCarthy, Brynn Moody, Jacci Sherry, Katie Bowles, and senior goalie Emma Huellmantel.

Ann Arbor Pioneer Pioneers

With only three seniors and one junior returning, leadership and team chemistry will be of the highest importance for the Pioneers, according to coach Sandy Hurd.  “We have fantastic leadership in our players,” Hurd said, “but the chemistry that they have been able to foster within this group is phenomenal.” The Pioneers will rely on four-year varsity player Julia Franceschi, along with sophomores Caroline Hurd and Lauren Chapman this season.  “We are a young team that simply needs experience playing at this level,” Hurd said.

Walled Lake Wild

“Our greatest strength this year will be our youth and the addition of some experienced players to our roster,” said Wild coach Erik Carlson. Led by seniors Taylor Jasgur, Mackenzie Moug, Grace Jardine and Alex Klos, the Wild will look to bring intensity to the ice this season.  Other players who bring valuable experience include Megan Eustice, Emma Crone, Ryann Brier, Christina Karagozian, Jordan Maynard and Meryll Miller.  One of the highlights of Walled Lake’s season is an outdoor game in Toledo against a Canadian squad this coming January.  “[It] will be a great experience for our girls,” Carlson said.

Bloomfield Hills Knighthawks

Coach Amy Shepler said that her Knighthawks will generate scoring chances by their ability to regroup and take advantage of turnovers, along with improved play in the neutral zone.  Due to having such a small team, each girl is considered a “key” player and will be relied upon to help produce wins for the Knighthawks.  “Despite the small team size, the team is tight-knit and thoroughly enjoys playing together,” Shepler said.  The play of first-time junior goaltender Madi Kramer will be important to Bloomfield Hills’ success, along with strong seasons from co-captains Genevieve Cornwall and Angelica Kunz on the blue line.  Other players to look out for are forwards Michelle Dawes, Nicole Pomish and Lindsey Harman.

Regina Saddelites

New Regina coach Paul Buscemi believes that leadership from his upperclassmen will translate to good team chemistry this year, despite losing 14 seniors from last season.  “One of our strengths is our team’s ‘never give up’ attitude, where they will battle from the first face-off to the final horn,” Buscemi said.  The Saddelites need to improve on their play without the puck, according to Buscemi.  “I feel by the end of the year we will be a much improved team and surprise a few teams come playoffs,” Buscemi said.

Cranbrook-Kingswood Cranes

There is no shortage of talent on the Cranes’ squad this season.  Coach Terry Brooks expects solid seasons from seniors Sydney Sakwa, last year’s league leader in points, and Colleen Jacoby, the defending “Miss Hockey” honoree.  “The strengths of my team are the depth that I have,” Brooks said.  “I will use three lines and six defense, and sometimes four lines in most games.”  Seven freshmen will be in the starting line-up for Cranbrook-Kingswood.  “If the younger players can perform at this level and not be intimidated, then we will be a tough team to play against,” Brooks said.

Mercy Marlins

The Marlins return 13 members from last year’s team.  Defense will be one of Mercy’s strong suits this season, according to coach Brandon Malinowski.  “We should have a strong defensive core this year with all the time we have spent on it in practice,” Malinowski said.  Senior Lauren Hensick will be holding down the blue line, while Alex Conner, Madeline McClain, Anna Mondrusov and Morgan DeBrincat are players to watch offensively.  Senior Clarissa LeVasseur will be between the pipes.  The Marlins’ coaching staff – in their first full season with Mercy – believes in a defensive philosophy.  “As a team, we believe games are won and lost in our defensive zone,” Malinowski said.

Port Huron Lady Icehawks

This season, Port Huron will be led by strong goaltending and returning upperclassmen.  “They are working real hard in practices and games,” said coach Steve Harris.  Key players for the Lady Icehawks include Courtney Harris, Morgan Thompson, Hayley Cox and Taylor Cook.  The team looks to incorporate younger players – and a few first-year players – into the game plan this season.  “We will need to bring up to speed our younger players and our two first year players,” Harris said.

Detroit Country Day Yellow Jackets

Detroit Country Day’s returning seniors will be a big help as the team enters its fourth year as a program.  “With a large group of returning seniors we hope to be competitive this year,” said coach Riccardo Di Pasquo.  The squad’s returning captains Jamie Bamberger, Christine Jiang and Michelle Liu will lead the way for Country Day.  Second-year goaltender Dana Mosa-Baha will see a lot of action this season, as well.  The Yellow Jackets have also added depth to their coaching staff this season, bringing in Dave Lukasik.

Grosse Pointe South Lady Blue Devils

Experience and leadership will be key strengths for Grosse Pointe South this season, according to coach Joe Provenzano.  “Our program lost a significant amount of scoring power from last year, so we know that we are going to have to outwork teams on a consistent basis to be successful,” Provenzano said.  The Blue Devils will be led by last season’s leading scorer Claire Boyle, along with seniors Marissa Monforton, Cara Monforton and Melissa Klinger.  The Lady Blue Devils should be strong in goal, as well.  “I expect goaltending to be critical, and I have confidence that Anastasia Diamond will build off her success from last year’s state playoffs,” Provenzano said.  There are a few things that the squad will still need to work on, however.  “We need to improve on executing fundamental concepts and skills and playing smart hockey,” Provenzano said.

Northville Mustangs

The Mustangs are fortunate to have solid team depth heading into this season.  Nine players are returning from last year, along with nine additions from the Varsity B squad.  “The Mustangs will have four solid lines and six experienced defensemen, and two of the league’s top goalies,” Holden said.  Northville looks to improve on intensity and holding onto leads, according to Holden.  The team is comprised of offensive and defensive players that hold valuable varsity-level experience.  “This is one of the first years in the history of our program that we have significant offensive ‘scoring-punch,’ returning some veteran goal scorers and picking up two freshmen, Marisha Hackett and Grace Healey, who have a knack for putting the puck in the goal,” Holden said.

Plymouth Canton Salem Penguins

Third-year coach Mary Beth Johnson believes that her team’s strength will come from their seniors, including goaltender Kaitlyn Allard.  “Kaitlyn has the ability to win games for us and will be a solid net minder all season,” Johnson said.  “All of our seniors have been playing the game for a very long time and will be great role models for the other half of our roster, which consists of mostly freshmen and sophomores.”  Leading the way for the Penguins will be two-way players Jackie Lough and Nicole Natelborg.  Plymouth Canton Salem’s captain Emily Bullock will be back to lead her squad from the blue line this season, as well.  Johnson, who took over the team during the 2009-10 season, won the Division 2 title in her first year as coach.  “The coaches’ goal is to make it to the Division 2 championship game again this year,” said Johnson.


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