AMHERST, N.Y. — The state of Wisconsin has had plenty of success this year at the collegiate level. Wisconsin-Stevens Point won the Men’s Division III National Championship and the University of Wisconsin won the Women’s Division I title.
Now the state is looking for success at the girls level at the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships. There are two teams from America’s Dairyland entered in the 16U category — Wisconsin Selects and Baldwin/River Falls BlackCats.
Both started the first day on a positive note. Both are looking to channel the success of their older role models.
“They’re around college hockey,” said Selects coach Megan Bailey. “Being in a town with some buzz gives them motivation to see themselves there one day. Anytime you’re in a community that has good sports teams, I think that you drive yourself to work hard.”
Wisconsin Selects won their first game 3-0 over the Aspen Leafs. Naomi Stow got the shutout with 13 saves. Amanda Bauer scored in the first. Mackenzie Rosin and Kalie Gruhlke (empty net) notched third period tallies.
The coach is able to roll all four lines on a well-balanced team.
“We looked a little slow, but that’s expected when you travel 700 some miles,” Bailey said of her team, most of which drove the entire way to New York. “Their hips are probably a little tight, so we got some yoga in the morning.
“It’s important to come out and get your first win and score some goals. So, I’m happy we got both those things accomplished. Just building on your first win is important.”
The Selects won their district to get here while the Black Cats received an at-large bid. They, too, took a victory in their first game, 4-1 over Florida Alliance.
Juneau Paulson scored in the first followed by two second period goals by Makenzie Weiss. After Florida got one back in the same period, it was quickly followed by a Lillian Accolo score to finish it off. Alesha Smith got the win in goal.
“It felt pretty good,” BlackCats coach Michael Delong said. “We controlled the game for the most part. We probably have to go to the net more to get some rebounds. For an opening game, not too bad.”
The BlackCats are located in the northwest part of the state just across the Minnesota border from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. They draw from a small region in that part of Wisconsin, mostly from Hudson, Eau Claire, Baldwin and River Falls.
“It’s a bunch of girls working hard, having fun,” DeLong said. “Just have fun [at nationals]. It’s the gravy of the whole season.”
Both teams are trying to make Wisconsin proud and follow in the footsteps of national champions at other levels.
“We went to a few of those [University of Wisconsin women’s] games throughout the season,” Bailey said. “Between Minnesota and Wisconsin, there’s a big rivalry up in that neck of the woods by us. It’s a nice hockey zone.”
Bailey said, “Wisconsin hockey is thriving. They’re excited to be here and represent the state.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.