By Jim den Hollander
Three players with local ties are set to begin their long-anticipated college hockey careers.
The recently released Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Conference (WIAC) Women’s Hockey schedule shows Badger Lightning 2019-20 captain and Reedsburg resident Kaylee Engel, now with the Northland College Lumberjills will face off against Sauk Prairie’s Jordan O’Connor, one of the top-ranked goaltenders in the WIAA last season who will begin her own college career with UW River Falls Falcons.
Generally, teams would be closing in on the post season by now with seasons getting underway in the fall, but COVID restrictions put in place by WIAC held things up until now.
Meanwhile, in the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Augsburg Auggies, including Julianna Teske, a former Reedsburg resident who moved back to town with her family recently.
Teske will also be suiting up for the first time in her college career.
Engel captained and led the Badger Lightning in scoring last season with 14 goals and 23 points. In 75 career games with the Lightning over four seasons, Engel notched 29 goals and 55 points.
While the Jills begin the regular season on Feb. 3 at River Falls, the team will also play a pair of exhibition contests beginning Tuesday (Jan. 26) at UW-Superior Yellowjackets and then Friday at home at Bay Area Civic Center in Ashland, also against the Yellowjackets.
O’Connor played every minute of last season for the Sauk Prairie Eagles varsity squad, compiling a record of 19-4-1 in regular season action, then adding two more in the post season, helping the team reach Sectional semi-finals.
Her 19 wins ranked he second in the WIAA through the regular season and her Goals Against Average and Save Percentage also ranked her among the best.
Her career stats with the Eagles saw her collect 21 wins in 27 starts with a 1.61 GAA. As a sophomore and junior, O’Connor spent time with the Madison Capitols.
O’Connor is one of three goaltenders on the Falcons, and one of two freshmen.
As this is written, there are no pre-season games scheduled for the Falcons.
Teske spend much of her youth career with the Madison Capitols and moved with her family to Warroad, Minnesota for her freshman year of High School.
Over four seasons with the Warroad Warriors, Teske played 99 regular season games, totaling 26 goals and 71 regular season points along with 20 playoff games where she added seven goals and 11 points. She also played on the Minnesota High School Performance Team in 2019-20, collecting three points in five games.
The Aggies are scheduled to begin the regular season against Hamline University on Feb. 6 at Tria Rink in St. Paul, Minn., but they will get an early preview Friday (Jan. 29) on home ice against St. Scholastica and then again, the following night in Duluth against the same St. Scholastica Saints. Both games faceoff at 7 p.m. and the Auggies schedule (https://athletics.augsburg.edu/sports/womens-ice-hockey/schedule) includes a link to watch the games live.
Saukhockey.info wants to wish all three college athletes the best of luck in their upcoming season. Hopefully, local female players watch and see the opportunity to play hockey at the college level is reachable by local athletes.