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Overhauled roster has Dickinson High girls hockey team looking to seniors for leadership

The Dickinson High girls hockey team is undoubtedly a rebuilding project, but the team is fortunate to have some components already in place. After graduating five seniors from last season's team, including the team's top two scorers, how the tea...

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Dickinson High senior forward Kira Zastoupil skates with the puck during practice Thursday at the West River Ice Center. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

The Dickinson High girls hockey team is undoubtedly a rebuilding project, but the team is fortunate to have some components already in place.
After graduating five seniors from last season’s team, including the team’s top two scorers, how the team integrates seven freshmen will determine how successful the project is.
“We have several seniors and several freshmen but a small number of kids in between. We’re a brand new team,” head coach Al Takle said. “So in the first couple weeks of practice, we’re learning the systems and learning what it takes to play at the varsity level.”
Dickinson High (6-16 last season) lost two exhibition games Saturday in Williston - 3-0 to Minot and 2-0 to Williston. The Midgets begin their new season at 7 p.m. Tuesday back in Williston.
With a handful of new faces, the Midgets will rely heavily on their upperclassmen in their quest to return to the state tournament for the second consecutive year.
“Our seniors, we’re certainly leaning on them a lot,” Takle said. “Hallie Hoffer, she’s a captain of our team and is going to be a big part of our defensive core. Abby Wandler will be our No. 1 center. Paige Schweitzer is a junior who will play a bunch of positions for us, and then our senior goalie Breanna Chamberlain.”

Senior forward Kira Zastoupil is the team’s fifth upperclassman, creating an eight-to-five imbalance with the underclassmen. A promising note, though, is that the seniors are quickly seeing that the freshmen are getting up to speed.
“These upcoming girls are up and new to playing with us, but they’ve been practicing really hard,” said Hoffer, who had 12 points last season. “We’re working great together. Good things are happening.”
The team has taken strides to improve cohesion in the days and weeks leading up to its season.
“Most of the team is new, so we have to do team bonding to get to know each other, and from there we know what everybody is doing,” Chamberlain said. “We go to movies, team dinners, bowling, fun stuff like that. We’re really close now, even in the short time we’ve been together.”
The Midgets start their year with four consecutive road games, not playing at home until Friday, Dec. 11., so the team will learn quickly what kind of results that bonding will yield.
“Early in the season, we have some games that are going to be important for us to win,” Takle said. “We’re still figuring out how good (the freshmen) going to be. We don’t have a lot of players on our roster, so those kids are going to have to step up.”
From what can be seen during preseason practices, Hoffer is optimistic about the team’s talent on offense and on defense.
“We have good lines and strong skaters, so I think we’ll be good both ways,” she said. “We always say to keep working hard because in the end, we’ll get our reward of going to state.”

Related Topics: PREP SPORTS
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