Tigers look to start season fresh

Published 11:16 pm Friday, November 3, 2017

Albert Lea girls’ hockey opens within a week

The Albert Lea girls’ hockey team is less than one week away from its first game of the season. Coming off a four-win season in 2016, the Tigers hope to build a new program with first-year head coach Josh Funk.

“We want to build off of where we have been in the past,” he said. “We want to use the young skill we have and use our speed to push our opponents in ways that they haven’t been pushed before by Albert Lea.”

Albert Lea freshman Maddie Schneider gets some work in early at practice with coach Josh Funk. The Tigers are hoping to improve upon their four-win season last year. – Tyler Julson/Albert Lea Tribune

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The Tigers are led by their three captains and returning seniors, Hannah Johnson, Lyrik Blake-Domke and Maddie Carstens. Johnson, a forward, led the team in goals scored last year and tied for most points. Carstens was the other player tied for most points a season ago; she also has scored 18 career goals. Blake-Domke is a defenseman and is described as a staple to the defensive core with multiple years of varsity experience.

“Our three senior captains have been a really good job at preparing the younger girls for the varsity experience,” Funk said. “They’ve been really good at leading the younger girls, getting them ready for high-tempo practice and getting them mentally ready to play varsity hockey. It’s been nice to see; they’ve been a big help to start the season.”

Albert Lea senior Hannah Johnson led the team in goals scored last season and was tied for most points with senior Maddie Carstens. The Tigers open their season Thursday in Mankoto. – Tyler Julson/Albert Lea Tribune

Funk said the team strength is going to be its speed. With such a young team, he said the speed will be able to mask the weaknesses until they can get those ironed out. Funk said the main weakness of the team is patience with the puck, but they will be able to fix that as time goes on. He said the team is very coachable and willing to learn.

“They’re sponges — they’re very good at soaking up all of the things that I try and teach them at practice,” he said.

The Tigers will open their season at 7 p.m. Thursday when they travel to Mankato to take on the Cougars. They will play in their first home game Nov. 16 against the Fairmont Cardinals.

“We’re excited for a different direction in the program,” Funk said. “The girls have been working really hard so far and I’ve thrown a lot at them this week. It’s been good to see that they’re picking things up a lot quicker than anticipated.”

The Albert Lea Tigers take a knee around head coach Josh Funk as he explains their next drill at Friday afternoon’s practice. – Tyler Julson/Albert Lea Tribune

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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