Girls’ hockey off to a fast start

Mound-Westonka’s Mackenzie Kratch, of Watertown-Mayer High School, skates with the puck in a recent game.

The Mound Westonka High School girls hockey team has started the season strong with two victories against nonconference opponents. The White Hawks, who are beginning the season ranked ninth in the Minnesota hockey coaches association among Section A schools, started their 2012-2013 season by defeating Northfield High School on the road 5-1 and winning at home against Tartan High School 4-0.

In both games the White Hawks closed strong in the third period. In their Nov. 15 game against Northfield they scored three goals in the third period and on Nov. 17 against Tartan they scored two goals. Head Coach Chris Erickson said the trend of strong third periods the White Hawks displayed is the opposite of last year, when they tended to start out hot.

“We started out slow in both of them and came on strong in the third period,” he said.

With only six seniors on the team this year, Erickson said new players to the varsity will have to get used to playing at the high school level as the season goes on.

“We’ve got a pretty young team this year,” he said. “It will be a matter of getting them used to high school hockey.”

One of the players that Erickson has pointed out for helping the White Hawks reach a 2-0 start is senior Jessica Nkhata, who scored a hat trick in the first game of the season against Northfield. Another player who has had a strong start to the season is defenseman Mackenzie Kratch. The sophomore Kratch, who is one of three players from Watertown Mayer High School, scored two goals in the 4-0 win against Tartan.

White Hawks Goaltender Emma Polusny, who is an eighth grader, has started the season only giving up one goal in two games. Polusny saved 23 shots to earn the win against Northfield and saved 17 shots in a shutout win against Tartan.

The White Hawks also won an overtime game Nov. 20 at New Prague, 3-2, won a home game 6-3 against Alexandria on Nov. 23, and won their fifth game of the season 5-2, at home against Bloomington Kennedy In their away game against New Prague High School, the White Hawks received two goals from forward Grace Holmen. The White Hawks also received a goal from Kratch.

In their second game of the week on Nov. 23 against Alexandria, the White Hawks received goals from Kratch, Jori Mazurek, Holmen and Liz Schepers.

The White Hawks won their fifth nonconference game on Tuesday, Nov. 27 when they defeated Bloomington Jefferson. This time, the White Hawks came out hot with three goals in the first period. Abby Brustad, Hailey Sterne and Holmen all recorded goals in the first, and early in the second period, Watertown-Mayer’s Taylor Moynagh scored to make it 4-0. White Hawk defender Ellian Burris scored the final goal of the hockey game to complete the score at 5-2.

The White Hawks are coming into this season after being only minutes from going to the state tournament last year. After finishing the regular season with a 16-8 record, MWHS lost to Hutchinson High School 3-2 in the section finals last February.

“That left a sour taste in the mouths of the players who are returning,” said Erickson.

The White Hawks are aiming for a state tournament bid this year, hoping to avenge the last second loss from last year.

“We expect to battle for the conference championship,” he said. “We definitely want to rebound from last season’s last second loss and win the section championship.”