No quit in Moose Lake Area team
Wins have been hard to come by of late for the Moose Lake Area girls' hockey team, but coach Joe Mohelsky believes better days are around the corner.
The Rebels lost 4-1 at home to Proctor-Hermantown on Tuesday, Jan. 9, but Moose Lake Area (6-10-1) didn't go down without a fight.
"I thought we started out slow and slowly got better," Mohelsky said. "We didn't have a lot of 'puck luck' tonight. But Proctor-Hermantown is a good team and they do a lot of good things. Overall we played OK, but we didn't win the game."
The Rebels are currently on a seven-game losing streak at press time, having last won Dec. 19 against North Shore. Since then, the biggest issue the team has faced, scoring goals, has reared its ugly head.
MLA is averaging under two goals per game, which makes it hard to win regularly, and has scored eight goals in the seven games since the team last won.
But there's no quit in this team.
"It's been a transition," Mohelsky said. "I think we are still trying to find our identity a bit and slowly we're getting there."
The Rebels lost twin sisters Jamie and Jessica Bird to graduation. The sisters are now playing at nationally-ranked University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where their teammate is Callie Hoff, who starred for Proctor-Hermantown last season.
"The Birds were very good players and so was Sage Gerard, who was a huge contributor, too," Mohelsky said. "We are asking some very young kids to fill very big roles. We're relying on our older players to fill roles they've never had to fill before. We have to have new playmakers and goal scorers and we're looking to them to pick up our scoring."
Jamie Benzie scored the Rebels' goal against the Mirage on a first-period power play. She's the team scoring leader, with nine goals and 17 points in 17 games.
"We might not be the most skilled team on the ice, but we compete every night," Mohelsky said. "They come to the rink every night ready to work. But they (the players) have been having a great time. It's very positive and the chemistry on the team is really good."
Yet it's the youth of the team that stands out.
"Our core is young," Mohelsky said, "We have five seniors and a large group of sophomores and younger."
With eight games left in the season, including the last five scheduled games on the road, Mohelsky says he wouldn't mind seeing his kids a little farther along in their development.
"We aren't playing bad hockey," he said, "but we aren't getting the luck we need for our confidence and we're struggling to generate offense. But there's still time left and the kids are eager. It's a matter of getting that next win to break loose for the confidence that comes with scoring goals and winning games."
With only two home games left — Tuesday, Jan. 16, against Superior and Saturday, Jan. 20, against Henry Sibley of the Twin Cities — time is running out to see a team that, frankly, is easy to root for.
"The team atmosphere has been a pleasant surprise," Mohelsky said. "We've had zero drama. The girls get along and even though we're on a losing streak, they are still laughing in the locker room and picking each other up. It's a really fun team to be around."
"If I were on the outside looking in, this is a team I'd want to root for," Mohelsky said. "We have great goaltending, good senior leadership, good workers and high energy. The kids are there to play hockey and get better and that's all we as coaches can ask for."