ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Strength in numbers

On the heels of a disappointing 2016-17 campaign, the Dickinson girls hockey team enter this season with a renewed sense of confidence thanks to one added element: depth.

Forward Kennedy Kuntz skates up ice against Jamestown during a home game last season on Jan. 7. (Press File Photo)
Forward Kennedy Kuntz skates up ice against Jamestown during a home game last season on Jan. 7. (Press File Photo)

On the heels of a disappointing 2016-17 campaign, the Dickinson girls hockey team enter this season with a renewed sense of confidence thanks to one added element: depth.

"There were lots of games where we were skating with nine skaters and that's just not enough," Midgets head coach Al Takle said.

Following a year with a skeleton roster, Dickinson will open the year with 23 players, more than doubling last year's total. The added girls in uniform are already paying dividends.

"It's very different, not as tiring at all," junior forward Kamryn Kuntz said. "It's fun to see the younger girls and mix in with some of the older girls."

Last year, the Midgets failed to qualify for states, finishing ninth in the Western Dakota Association standings with a 6-14 record. The top eight qualify for the state tournament.

ADVERTISEMENT

With their sights set on making their first state appearance since 2015, Dickinson has been working hard during the off-season and few weeks of practice, focusing on building their brawn under a new school-implemented strength program.

"We've been in practice for a little over two weeks and they've been going hard," Takle said. "The girls that didn't do any fall sports have been in the weight room all fall and skating on their own. They've really been improving in both their hockey sense and their overall skating ability."

While the new players will see time on the ice, another strength of this team will be continuity. The team lost a single player to graduation, defender Paige Schweitzer.

"We only lost one player so that helps," Takle said. "We only have one senior, but we have a good core group of juniors and sophomores who we are expecting big things from them this year. They know what to do. They know what to expect from us. We've started to develop a little bit of a culture where they keep themselves accountable. They're at practice on time and going hard all the way through practice. Just that extra year of experience and having our core group going from sophomores to juniors, there's a huge difference in our maturity level."

Among the returns are Kuntz, her sister Kennedy and Taia Klaman. The trio led the team in points last season, but their production on the ice is just one of the reasons Takle considers those three as leaders.

"Kamryn is our captain and her sister Kennedy is an assistant captain along with Taia Klaman who is a sophomore," he said. "If I had my choice, I'd like to have my captains be all seniors and you don't always get that, but those three are the core of our team. Our offense is going to generate from those three, but they are also the hardest workers on our team."

Dickinson will open the season Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. against Williston from the West River Ice Center. After facing Williston over the weekend as part of a preseason jamboree, the players are geared up to get the season underway.

"I'm excited to see how we play tomorrow," Kuntz said. "We had a jamboree this weekend and I was pretty impressed with what we came out with. So I'm excited to see what we bring to the table tomorrow. Hopefully we're come in with some speed, that's always a plus when we come in ready to go."

ADVERTISEMENT

As for Takle, he's as eager as the players.

"We're happy where we are right now, tomorrow we'll see how good we really are," Takle said.

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOLDICKINSON MIDGETS
What To Read Next
Brantley III sets second all-time record in shot put, Wrzesinski breaks school and North Star record in 60 meter hurdles
Entering the game the Midgets and Blue Jays were tied in the WDA standings, and owing to a clutch performance Dickinson came away with a crowd pleasing win.
Engwitch and Speelmon take home belt buckles in victory at memorial home tourney
Before a packed crowd at home, Dickinson State dominated the Comets going 45% from the floor, grabbing 48 boards and double-digits in assists