By Jim den Hollander
A slow but steady climb in the standings in recent seasons should continue as the Badger Lightning varsity girl’s hockey team moves a step closer toward a full lineup.
The varsity squad will enter the 2021-22 season will a third line after playing last season with just two and a new pair of young but qualified defenders.
Coach Rick Capener said in a recent interview (see YouTube video below) he is excited for the possibilities this season as the incoming players give the team, that inexplicably outplayed opponents in the final 17 minutes consistently last season, some depth to make the job a little easier.
The team’s efforts were clearly noticed as Kayla Capener, then a sophomore was named to the all-State Honorable Mention group last season. She will form a potent pair along with senior Signe Begalske on what will likely be the team’s number one offensive unit. As of last week, the third member of that unit was still to be decided.
Moving Elroy native Mallory Ruhland off that line should provide depth and consistency. She will be teamed with Lani Selje to create another potent offensive unit.
Capener is still working on filling the third position on both lines.
With no seniors last season, the team is blessed with a rare 100 percent return this time around, including Begalske, defender Carson Blosenski and forward Emily Gunnel who will all carry leadership roles as the seniors this time around. The team held regular get togethers over the off season and hit the ice as soon as possible in Sauk Prairie, not just to scrimmage, but to work on drills and begin the bonding process, valuable for the incoming players.
In goal, sophomore Alyssa Gada made a great debut between the pipes last season and Kaitlin Elder has made huge strides at the position as well.
While the team proved its work in third periods last season, the comeback attempts often were made necessary by dismal starts. The Lightning lost games in the opening period frequently last season and that is an area Capener, and his charges know they must fix.
The goal this season will be to once again bump up the win total and to provide a tougher challenge to Badger Conference opponents like the Cap City Cougars and Metro Lynx who they simply haven’t been able to compete with in the past.
The Lightning will get an extra week of preparation as it doesn’t enter the WIAA fray until Saturday (Nov. 27) when it plays host to the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers for a pair of contests at Pierce Park Pavilion.