Wildfire want to win Wright County

Team:Holy Family/Waconia girls’ hockey

Three seniors will lead the Wildfire this year, including, from left: Libby New, Jaci Reinke, and Megan Bunker.
Three seniors will lead the Wildfire this year, including, from left: Libby New, Jaci Reinke, and Megan Bunker.

Nickname: Wildfire
Head coach: Ryan Rice
Assistant coaches: TJ Garin and Julie Rockford

Conference: Wright County
Section: 2AA
Captains: Megan Bunker and Jaci Reinke

2011-12 finish: The Wildfire were 16-8-2 in 2011-12, finishing fourth of five teams in the conference. The season ended prematurely with a 5-1 loss to Chaska/Chanhassen in the first round of Section 2AA play.

Key losses: The Wildfire lost just three seniors last season in All-Conference Honorable Mention player Megan Burke, goalie Carly Bergstrom, and Kelsey Burmeister.

Key returnees: Head coach Ryan Rice said much of the core defensive effort for the Wildfire is back this season including senior Jaci Reinke (All-Conference), senior Megan Bunker, junior Jamie Kichler, and junior Shania Gonzales (All-Conference HM).

“Defensively, we’re pretty solid,” Rice said.

On the attack, junior Sarah Rosland (All-Conference), junior Abby Hanscom (All-Conference HM), and freshman Megan Menzuber (All-Conference HM) are expected to carry the load and be leaders, according to Rice.

Key newcomers: A new face on the starting lineup this season is freshman goalkeeper Lexi Hartmann.

“She’s played well for us,” Rice said.

Early into the season, Hartmann leads the WCC in goalie save percentage.

Teams to beat: With a small, five-team conference, Rice said all four competitors will be tough this season, especially Orono and Mound-Westonka.

“Our number one goal is to compete and win the Wright County,” he said.

When asked about the section, Rice simply responded, “who isn’t tough?” With Edina, Eden Prairie, and Chaska/Chanhassen in the girls’ hockey section, the Wildfire will get a taste of the teams during the regular season.

Goals: First and foremost, Rice wants to win the conference this season. If the Wildfire aren’t successful, he at least hopes to be in the top half to finish with a strong enough season record to draw a home game for the first round of section play.

First games: The Wildfire are 4-1-1 this season after picking up wins over St. Paul (3-0) and Minnehaha (11-0) last week. In the 3-0 shutout against St. Paul on Nov. 29, Reinke scored the first two goals, assisted by Menzuber and eighth grader Ashlyn Rakos. Rosland had the final goal, unassisted.

Hosting Minnehaha on Dec. 1, the Wildfire dominated all three periods, filling the time with goals. In the first, Menzuber and Reinke each scored for the Wildfire. Freshman Makayla Williams and Reinke were credited with assists to Menzuber.

The Wildfire scored six goals in the second period, four in the first three minutes. Rosland got things started at 0:49, assisted by junior Brityn Ryshavy and Hanscom before Reinke at 2:21 (assisted by Williams). Sixteen seconds later, Menzuber scored unassisted, followed by Williams at 3:02, assisted by sophomore Karlie McEnelly. Hanscom (assisted by Rosland and freshman Annie Rothstein) and Ryshavy (assisted by Hanscom and Rosland) scored later in the period to give the Wildfire an 8-0 lead.

At 1:12 in the third, Rosland scored unassisted before Gonzales knocked one in at 3:50. Kichler and Menzuber were credited with Gonzales’ assists. Kichler wrapped up the scoring at 7:50, assisted by Gonzales and sophomore Claire Pernat.

Holy Family/Waconia outshot Minnehaha 52-3. Hartmann collected another shutout in goal and currently leads the Wright County in goalie save percentage.

Rice said the Wildfire moved the puck much better compared to the St. Paul game.

“We really played strong as a team,” he said. “We got points from several different players on the team, including several from our defense, which was something we were looking for from the start of the season.”