PREP GIRLS HOCKEY: Same team, new leader for Marshall girls hockey team

MARSHALL – A year ago the Marshall Tigers bid for a state tournament berth ended in the section championship game when they fell to Mankato East, 4-2. The Tigers return a strong core of players from last year’s team that finished with a 17-7-1 overall record and one win away from the program’s first state tournament bid since 2008.

The faces on the ice will remain the same, but the Tigers will be under the direction of a new coach for the upcoming season. It’s new coach, but a familiar face with Deanna Suby.

Suby previously coached the Tigers from 2004-2014. The Tigers made the state tournament in 2007 and 2008 under the direction of Suby.

“We lost three girls from last year’s team,” Suby said. “We are going to be equally as strong. We have four new players coming up. This team is going to have a good chance of being right back in the same spot. This year we are hopefully taking that spot over and going to state.”

Rachel VanKeulen led the Tigers in goals last year with 19. Last year as a junior VanKeulen was one of the team’s leaders. Now as a senior Suby said that she’s taken on even more of a leadership role.

“Leadership is the first thing I think about when it comes to Rachel,” VanKeulen said. “She motivates the girls to do their best in every single drill we do in practice.”

A year ago the Mauch sisters, Courtney and Sydney combined for 27 goals. Sydney finished with 18 and Courtney finished with eight. Suby said that the Mauch sisters bring a lot of energy to the ice.

“It’s a tag team event with them,” Suby said. “They bring so much energy. When they hit the ice they work as hard as anyone out there. They are constantly pushing each other. They push their line mates on what to improve on. The positivity they bring on the ice is just infectious.”

The Tigers return their top two goalies from last year. Alexis Moat recorded 141 saves last year and had five shutouts.

As an eighth grader Emma Klenken finished with 262 saves and three shutouts. Suby said that she’s seen significant growth in Klenken’s game.

“She has gotten in a lot of training throughout the summer,” Suby said. “She’s spent a lot of time going to different camps. She’s worked one-on-one with a goalie instructor.”

The Tigers will open up the season today on the road against Hutchinson. Suby said the team’s focus is to get better each day. If they can do that they’ll be able to reach their goal.

“We are going to focus on getting better in each practice,” Suby said. “We are taking it one step at a time. We want to see what our improvements can be so we can make it all the way. Which we are going to make it all the way. We need to keep that focus on our end goal.”