by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River girls hockey suddenly became a very young team this year, but fortunately their lone senior starter, Chelsey Petrich, is a substantial role model for the many rookies to follow.
The four-year starter, three-sport athlete and straight-A student is the epitome of a taking-care-of-business approach to sports and life.
“Chelsey is a very smart girl, on and off the ice,” said coach Joe Heasley. “She knows where she is supposed to be all the time. You always know she’s going to do the right thing. She is not a flashy player who gets a lot of goals, but a very responsible one.”
A wing the past three years, the 5-7, 125-pound Petrich plays center this year while taking the point on the power play. As Heasley says, “She knows where to go with the puck and isn’t going to try anything risky.”
Elk great Jonna Curtis, a 2012 graduate, asked for Petrich to skate on her line the last two seasons because of her reliability. On that note, Petrich is also a nice link to the program’s previous glories. She helped the Elks post a 62-16-6 record the last three years with conference titles in 2010 and 2012 and a state fifth-place finish in 2011.
All last year’s regulars graduated except Petrich and junior Kaylee Forster, the co-captains. The current squad has two seniors, two juniors, five sophomores, six freshmen and an eighth-grader in the top 16. In rebuilding mode, they’ve been competitive most of the time, too, going 8-10-3 so far.
“The last three years, playing with the class ahead of me, I have always been the baby on the team. And now I’m the oldest, and I have to be a leader,” Petrich acknowledged. “It’s been fun to have the opportunity to bring that out in me.”
Petrich leads the Elks with 11 assists and has scored three goals. She had five goals each of the last two seasons.
“I think the biggest thing the team needs from me is to play wherever they need me,” said Petrich, a versatile skater who also enjoys hunkering down on penalty kill on occasion.
Her career highlight came in 10th grade when the Elks beat Proctor-Hermantown-Marshall (she had a goal) and Grand Rapids-Greenway for the section crown, then lost to eventual champion Minnetonka at the state tournament but beat Lakeville South and North Wright County for the consolation trophy.
“It was really cool when the team came together and played as one to win our section. And state was awesome, too,” she reflected.
The Elks had a four-OT loss to GRG in last year’s section finals, a heartbreaking finale with her longtime cohorts.
Petrich played soccer until seventh grade, then came back with the varsity as a junior and senior. Her job was subbing to help keep pace in the midfield, with mainly defensive duty.
Brian Steuter, her soccer coach and history teacher, called Petrich “a great addition” to the team, praising her work ethic and self-motivation in sports and the classroom, and her dedication to the team concept. “She is a great example to the rest of the student body on how to go about your business,” said Steuter, noting that three-sport athletes are rare these days, especially ones carrying a straight-A report card.
Petrich is also ERHS’s Triple-A nominee (arts, academics, athletics).
In track, Petrich runs the open 400 (personal best 1:04) and the 4-by-400 relay. She’s been part of three conference and section champion teams.
Youngest of five kids, she started hockey in first grade with sister Cassey, a year older. They were Elk teammates three years. She’s lettered four years in hockey and track and two in soccer. She wants to be a dermatologist, and says she might give college hockey a try.
THE PETRICH SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 …. Family: parents, Tom and Nancy; older brothers, Joey and Josh; older sisters, Cassey and Jess …. Sports: soccer, hockey, track … Other activities: National Honor Society, Spanish Club … Academics: 4.038 GPA … College plans: Concordia-Moorhead or St. Scholastica
Favorite stuff — Class: human anatomy, Spanish … TV shows: “Pretty Little Liars” and “Revenge” … Movie: “Miracle” … Reading: science fiction and romance novels … Food: “I’m an ice cream fanatic!” …. Music: Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Maroon Five … Team: Gophers, UM-Duluth, North Dakota hockey …. Kickback activities: running, shopping … Would like to visit: Europe, especially Italy, to soak up the culture