Team North Dakota developed scoring balance while preparing to again represent the Northern Plains District in the Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 16U Nationals, April 5-9 in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Four players averaged more than a point per game and two others produced double figures in points when Team North Dakota went 9-4-8 in its fall schedule, the only games it played before a three-game tune-up series in South Dakota the weekend before nationals started.
“Having the scoring be a little more spread out amongst the lines lessened the dependence on one line doing all the scoring,” Team North Dakota national tournament-eligible teams director Ryan Griggs said. “The team was very competitive throughout the fall season, which is attributed to the players being committed to the team, and the quality of the players that are on the team.”
Olivia Weisberg leads the team in points while sharing the lead with 13 goals and adding 14 assists. Madison Swenson leads with 18 assists and also has seven goals. Alexis Sampson also has 13 goals, along with 11 assists while Mackenzie Hanson has five goals and 17 assists.
Josie Hell is another player with 13 goals. She also has four assists.
Grace Emineth has seven goals and six assists.
Dessa Flom has six goals and three assists. She scored the team’s only goal in three games at nationals last season on an assist from Hanson.
Hanson, Emineth, Flom, Tori Tatum and Haily Steinberg are all making their third straight nationals trip after also playing in the 14U tournament in 2016. Hell and Brooke Nelson are going for the second time.
Mitch Hanson has coached the team through each nationals appearance.
Team North Dakota is formed through summer tryouts. Following the fall schedule, the teams return to their local high school teams for the winter season.
Flom, Hell and Emineth earned all-state recognition during the high school season, which saw Team North Dakota players be a part of both teams that advanced to the state championship game.
The team is back practicing together and picked up additional game experience in the final two days of March with the South Dakota trip.
“It was a good opportunity for the girls to get back together and play as a team after being away at their respective high schools during the winter,” Griggs said. “It allowed the coaches and players to work on some of the team things — defense, special teams, etc. — prior to heading to the national tournament.”
The 16U Team North Dakota squad will be the only Northern Plains girls’ representative in Tier I.
Team South Dakota has entries in 19U and 16U for the Tier II nationals, also April 5-9 in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Team South Dakota went 7-2-2 and was unbeaten in its last six 19U games during the fall season. The 16U team went 6-6 after starting out 0-3 with games against the Tier I North Dakota team.
South Dakota reached the 19U national quarterfinals in 2016 and 2017. Its 16U team went 1-2 at nationals last year.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.