by Eric Oslund
The last time anyone saw the Elk River girls hockey team play in a game, they lost to Blake 0-1 in the championship game of their holiday tournament. That was back on Dec. 31, 2016.
Since then, the calendar has flipped over to 2017 and the girls had 10 days off until they finally got to play another game again on Tuesday, Jan. 10, against Andover.
Often times, it can be difficult for a team to go that long without having a game because practices can get so mundane and repetitive after awhile. Luckily for the Elks, though, the girls have a lot of veteran leaders on their team. Seniors who know this is their last opportunity to accomplish their goals, so they were able to keep everyone focus on the task at hand.
One thing that time off did do for the girls was get the anxious to play again. They had a lot of pent up energy and excitement, and it showed as Halle Johnson was able to score 36 seconds into the game, and they entered into the first intermission leading 3-0.
“I think it helps. The fact that they wanted to get going, they wanted to play, it had been a while and kind of the rest over that time as well,” head coach Dale Sager said. “Practice gets tiring after awhile. You want to, like they say in football, you want to go hit somebody else for awhile, so we’re glad to be playing again and we’re glad to keep going.”
The Elks would end up defeating Andover 5-1, which Sager called, “a great way to start the new year.” Not only is it great because they were able to come away with a win and improve to 13-3 on the season, but they were able to come away with a win against a section opponent.
It’s always important to defeat other teams that are in your section when you see them during the regular season because it helps with seeding come tournament time.
The Elks then got the chance to face another section opponent on Friday, but this one was a bit more of a daunting task than Andover. They hosted the 13-3-2 Grand Rapids/Greenway team in a game which Sager knew would not only be key later in the season, but a tough match up all around. The results were unknown at the time of press.
“A big section game,” the head coach said. “They’re 12-3 or 13-3, so it’s always big for section seeding at the end of the year if you can say you’ve beat them… They’ve got some really talented players and it should be a good hockey game on Friday.”