Prep girls hockey: Rothe, Mirage muscle their way past Rebels
Proctor/Hermantown’s unmatched depth continues to be envy of Northland girls hockey.
PROCTOR — Proctor/Hermantown winger Ella Rothe played some varsity last season as a freshman but didn’t exactly light it up, finishing with one goal and three assists in a season that was sidetracked by a broken hand costing her about six games.
Rothe is back this season in a fourth-line role, and while her experience increases, so does her production. Rothe had her second two-goal game of her career — and second in a week — to lead Proctor/Hermantown to a 7-1 girls hockey victory over Moose Lake Area before about 250 at St. Luke’s Events Center.
Rothe said the Mirage have a next-player-up mentality fostered by coach Emma Stauber. This program, winners of the Minnesota Class A title in 2021 and runner-up last year, has become the envy of Northland girls hockey, both in terms of success and depth. They crank out players like a factory produces pucks.
“Coach Emma is really good at developing our players and just making them the best it can be,” Rothe said. “It really shows out there. We play as a team and everybody pulls through.”
While some teams struggle to roll two lines, the Mirage have been going four in recent years. That's depth Moose Lake Area can’t match, though the Rebels gave it a go last year, leading the Mirage before ultimately falling 6-3 on Jan. 24 in Moose Lake. That was part of a banner 18-7-1 record for the Rebels.
This go-round was supposed to be closer but it got off to an ominous start as Moose Lake Area had transportation issues on a snowy Tuesday across the Northland and showed up at St. Luke’s later than planned. The game started about 15 minutes late.
“We showed up a little late, and that kind of rattled our girls,” said third-year Rebels coach Reilly Fawcett, a former Mirage star. “That’s happened to us before. We’re not new to that. It was just one of those days.”
Moose Lake Area came out flat and couldn't match the speed of the Mirage, who play a tough schedule than the Rebels.
Proctor/Hermantown (10-3-2) scored three goals in the first period and got Natalie Berg’s shorthanded goal at 5:12 in the second before Moose Lake Area (8-2) answered with one of its few bright spors as Sandra Ribich scored the Rebels’ lone goal at 6:32 in the second on an assist from Megan Hattenberger.
Fawcett was asked if Proctor/Hermantown was beatable in Section 7A.
“Every team is beatable,” Fawcett said. “You just have to find their weaknesses and be able to isolate that and take advantage of that. We started to do a good job of starting to shut down their offense — they’re so offensive. We knew we had to play solid defensively and keep them to the outside. There were times we were able to do that but there were times we weren’t and fell apart.”
Mallory Hartl had 45 saves for Moose Lake Area while Suri Langley had 12 saves for Proctor/Hermantown, which fell 6-1 to Warroad in last year’s Class A state title game.
“Winning a state title was obviously a highlight two years ago, but right now, when I think back, that loss last year, that Warroad loss is really vivid,” Stauber said. “It’s hard to forget about that and I think the players feel the same.”
“I think that loss motivated us to try to play better,” she said. “I think coach Emma is really basing our practice plans on trying to fix those mistakes. I think in some ways we’re better than last year, and in others ways, we’re not, but we’re working hard and getting there. I think by the end of the year we’ll be very good come sections and hopefully state. That’s the goal.”
Moose Lake Area 0-1-0—1
First period — 1. PH, Natalya Hooey (Hannah Graves, Ava Anick), 2:15; 2. PH, Anika Burke (Nya Sieger, Jane Eckstrom), 5:08; 3. PH, Ella Rothe (Mya Gunderson, Kalea Homich), 8:02.
Second period — 4. PH, Natalie Berg (Hailey Jussila), 5:12 (sh); 5. MLA, Sandra Ribich (Megan Hattenberger), 6:32.
Third period — 6. PH, Izy Fairchild (Gunderson), 4:17; 7. PH, Sieger (Morgan LaValley), 5:49; 8. PH, Rothe (Jussila, Sophie Parendo), 8:49.
Saves — Mallory Hartl, MLA 45; Suri Langley, PH, 12.