Team South Dakota will bring a young team to the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19-and-Under National Championships next month in Vermont.
“Young” describes the team as a whole and its players.
Team South Dakota won the Northern Plains District title on the 19U level in the team’s first season, succeeding with a youthful lineup that has a chance to be together for years to come.
With a roster dominated by high school freshmen and sophomores, Team South Dakota won the three-day, round-robin Northern Plains tournament on Feb. 12-13 in Gillette, Wyoming.
Coach Donovan Peterson organized new Team South Dakota squads on the 19U and 14U levels with the Northern Plains 19U district title and a nationals berth in mind. He said the 14U team didn’t pursue a nationals berth, but the program is in place to begin developing a stronger 19U program for the future.
“This is a first-year team for trying to go to nationals,” Peterson said. “We had tryouts in August open to all the girls throughout the state.”
The team played a fall schedule, going about .500, generally losing as a member of the Premier Prep League in Minnesota and winning in exhibition games against local teams in South Dakota.
After breaking in November for the players to participate with their local teams in the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association, Team South Dakota got back together for a practice before heading to Wyoming.
Team South Dakota has representatives from seven of the eight SDAHA 19U Tier II teams.
The result has been a balanced team.
Team South Dakota had a dozen players with at least one point in the Northern Plains opener, an 11-3 victory over Team Wyoming, and 15 players total hit the score sheet while going 3-0 on the weekend.
Team South Dakota allowed just four goals in three games, and three of them came after building a 9-0 lead against Team Wyoming.
Madison Ogdahl had two goals and two assists, while Tiffany Hamman added two goals. Hailey Holland and Maddie Schultz each had three points, and four other teammates had at least two.
Ogdahl had the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win over the Big Sky Wildcats from Montana. Schultz, who led the team at the tournament with four goals and two assists, scored twice in the last 5:29.
Team South Dakota won the district title with a 4-0 shutout against the Wildcats. Hamman had a goal and an assist.
Hailey Huff played all three games in goal. After making 16 saves in the first game against the Wildcats, she had a 17-save shutout the next day.
Ogdahl finished with three goals and two assists in the three games. Hamman and Schultz each had three goals and an assist, while Holland had two goals and two assists.
“We have a pretty young team,” Peterson said. “We’re kind of going into this blindly, but the team from Montana that we beat did win three games at nationals last year.”
That fact gives Peterson and his players some encouragement for their prospects in their debut season. Team South Dakota is already building for potential future trips.
“That’s why we did the 14s as a recruitment process and introduction to getting the kids together,” said Peterson, who also assisted with that team. “They enjoyed being there and getting to know other kids from other towns.
“It was a way of introducing them into the program and getting parents into it and involved. They’re excited about it, and our 19Us are excited about nationals. We’d like to keep it ongoing from year to year.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.