Low roster numbers will test Majette girls hockey

Losing two of his top three point-getters from last year’s state tournament team isn’t what worries Minot High girls hockey coach Weylin Wahlstrom.

What gets his heart pumping is the thought of the tired legs and sore bodies that could plague his short-handed team in the late stages of the season.

The Majettes lost six seniors – including their top two scorers in Jessie Kongelf (23 goals) and Angie Lothspeich (15 goals) – but only replenished their roster with three newcomers.

“We’re down quite a bit as far as numbers are concerned,” said Wahlstrom, in his third year as head coach. “We don’t have the depth we usually do as far as our roster.

“Everybody’s gonna have a lot of ice time this year. We’re gonna have to work through the injuries and the illnesses and everything else.”

All 13 non-seniors returned from last season, when Minot went 11-14 and placed sixth at the state tournament. But with only 16 players, Minot sits four under the varsity maxium. In some years, the Majettes’s roster has carried more than 25 players.

“We just didn’t have as many girls come out as we hoped to,” said senior forward Makaila Anderson, a bit bewildered by the player shortage. “For whatever reason, just not as many girls coming out for hockey this year.”

Wahlstrom said conditioning is a point of emphasis he’ll stress during a season when endurance and health will be of the utmost importance.

The Majettes’ game plans are normally adjusted depending on opponent. This year, plans will be tweaked to fit their own needs when illness or injury tests their small roster, Wahlstrom said.

“We’ve always been a pretty aggressive team on the ice,” he said. “I’m hoping that doesn’t change because in front of the net, we’re gonna have to win some of those scrums if we’re gonna win games.”

Anderson won plenty of those scrums last year, when she ranked second on the team in points with 22 (eight goals, 14 assists). Minot’s offense will rely heavily on sophomores Sydney Boyce (four goals, 13 assists) and Taylor Hooker (10 goals, six assists).

Senior Sydney Swanson, who led the team with 392 saves, returns at goalkeeper after splitting starts with Karlee Galvin last year.

“I’m really excited, a little nervous, but pretty pumped,” Swanson said of assuming full-time starting duties. “It’s my senior year so I just gotta play my heart out.”

Swanson posted a .905 save percentage and had a 3.62 goals against average during her junior campaign. Wahlstrom said her experience in net allows the Majette defense to play in a bold fashion.

“With Syd in net,” he said, “we just have the confidence that we’re willing to take a couple more chances offensively and allow our defense to rush the puck and join in plays a little more when you know you have a kid behind you that makes plays the way she does.”

Wahlstrom expects a stingy defense that will keep Minot competitive in most games. The hope, he said, is that the Majettes’ have enough energy to generate sufficient offense.

“We have to be a little bit more conditioned and just have to be ready for any situation,” Anderson said. “We have to always be going hard since we have less girls.”

Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.