The Rogers girls hockey team finished out another strong regular season with a convincing 9-1 victory over Princeton on Feb. 4. The victory marked five wins in their final six games, improving their record to 14-6-5 in the process.
It’s a mark that many may have not expected from the Royals after losing program-leading scorer Paetyn Levis to graduation, but behind senior captains Sami Scherling and Marie Reimer and a progressively improving supporting cast, Rogers put together their fourth straight winning year and are feeling good about themselves heading into the Section 5AA tournament.
“I’m feeling really good about my team. We have worked all season for this, and now that’s it’s coming down to crunch time I think we are ready,” said Scherling, who scored a career- and team-high 44 points (21 g, 23 a) during the regular season. “We just have to make sure we are all there mentally and everyone has to show up and want it.”
Despite a winning season, the Royals were thrown a curve ball when they found out they’d be the No. 6 seed in the seven-team Section 5AA tourney, setting them up for a first-round matchup against No. 3-seeded Champlin Park/Coon Rapids (14-7-4). It was a disappointing result, considering they hold a better winning percentage than every section team but No. 1-seeded Maple Grove (17-7-1). Other teams seeded in front of them were No. 2 Centennial (11-12-2), No. 4 Blaine (11-13-1) and No. 5 Anoka (12-10-2).
Section seeding often comes down to head-to-head matchups, but even so, the Royals are 1-1-1 in three section games, which isn’t a poor result in section games, although they may have benefited from scheduling games against the other three section teams.
Nevertheless, Scherling said the team is going to make the most of a negative result.
“My team was obviously not happy with our seeding, but we aren’t letting it get to us. We are only going to use it for motivation to push us even harder (in practice) leading up to the game,” Scherling said. “For many years, people have had this idea that Rogers isn’t a threat. As a team, we are always trying to change that. Obviously, some people still think (we aren’t a threat), but sections is our time to prove and support that the culture of Rogers girls hockey is changing and we are building a tradition of hard work and success.”
On a positive note, the Section 5AA tournament takes place at a neutral site and their path avoids favorite Maple Grove until a potential section championship matchup. They also have some familiarity with first-round opponent Champlin Park/Coon Rapids after losing to them 2-0 on Jan. 3.
The Royals know they didn’t give them their best game the first time around, so they are expecting a better showing in their second meeting, knowing it’s do-or-die time now. Scherling said a good week of practice and staying mentally sharp and prepared should help them get to where they want to be in the end.
“We need to give it 110 percent in practice to come out and be able to play at that top-notch section speed. We also have to make sure we have that determined and focused mindset to be prepared mentally,” she said.
Rogers takes on Champlin Park/Coon Rapids at Roseville Ice Arena on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.
Area athletes take part in National Signing Day
Feb. 6 marked National Signing Day, which saw multiple area athletes sign National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college.
The following Elk River students signed with colleges: Ava Grimm (Mary, track), Angel Fredin (UW-Stout, track), Larkin Clem (St. Mary’s, volleyball), Abbey Benson (UW-River Falls, lacrosse), Alexis Beck (St. Ben’s, softball), Kelsey King (Minnesota State-Mankato, hockey), Charlie Eldredge (St. Thomas, baseball), Tyler Benson (Augsburg, wrestling), Carson Friestad (Minnesota-Morris, soccer), Evan Miller (Hamline, football), Sarah Johnson (Upper Iowa, volleyball), Devon Roberts (Alabama-Huntsville, lacrosse), Dylan Fruth (Jamestown, basketball), Kayden Hendrickson (Alabama-Huntsville, lacrosse) and Dee Dokken (Minnesota State-Mankato, tennis).
The following Rogers students signed with colleges: Amber Secrist (Wisconsin-Milwaukee, swimming), Ben McNaboe (Minnesota, football), Bjorn Charles (Bethel, football) and Brayden Mateuszczyk (St. Scholastica, football).
The following Zimmerman students signed with colleges: Tucker Budreau (St. Cloud State, football) and Alyssa Daugherty (Concordia-St. Paul, basketball).
This student listing is based on information provided to the Star News.
Elk River hockey players make a
difference off the ice
The Elk River girls hockey team hosted a “Big Sisters” event on Feb. 3, sharing the ice with Elk River Youth youth hockey players from the U8 and Mite teams.
The Big Sisters Mentorship Program, which was started about five years ago by Jacki Humphrey, pairs each high school player with a youth hockey player. Humphrey said the high school girls are encouraged to get to know them throughout the season, with the goal of encouraging girls to continue playing hockey.
On Feb. 3, the Elks rented out an hour of ice time at Elk River Ice Arena to skate around with their “little sisters,” as well as share a breakfast of doughnuts and juice together. Elks senior goalie Megan Jung said it was a blast, noting it brought her back to her days as a youth hockey player when a similar program was in place.
“I remember as a kid they had a little sister program. ... I remember that it was the greatest thing. It was so much fun to have those high schoolers, who were such role models in our lives, to see them come out and skate with us,” Jung said. “So being able to be that high schooler now and skate with these younger girls and hang out with them and see them around the rink is just so much fun. And you don’t just build a bond with your little sister, but you bond with all the girls on the team.”
Jung, who has had four little sisters in a four-year varsity career with the Elks, said it’s rewarding to see their little sisters develop a love for the game and come out to support them. It shows that the program is doing its part in growing girls hockey in Elk River.
“They are just so excited when they see us at the rink or come to our games,” she said, noting that they also get the opportunity to skate on the ice before games during pregame introductions. “And that’s so much fun for them and it’s just as much fun for us as it is for them.”
ERZ Nordic finishes strong at conference championships
After several cancellations and reschedules due to the cold winter, ERZ Nordic finished strong at the conference championships at Baker Park Reserve on Feb. 1.
The ERZ boys scored second overall, beating third place Maple Grove by only 3 points Armstrong came in first. Twelve teams competed overall including Champlin Park, Irondale, Blaine, Spring Lake Park, Andover, Coon Rapids, Osseo, Anoka and Park Center.
“The boys team was in third behind Maple Grove after the skate race in the morning, and moved ahead thanks to our great race in the afternoon classic,” ERZ head coach Zach Varty said. “The biggest impact came from Alex Heidorn, who passed 18 people in the classic race. It’s the biggest change I’ve seen in a single race. Lucas Gustafson also had a great day, his best of the year by far, surprising himself and us as coaches with his 20th place finish.”
Five boys qualified for All-Conference: Ethan Anderson (6th), Tyler Davis (15th), Jadon Purcell (16th), Lucas Gustafson (20th) and Alex Heidorn (36th).
The ERZ girls scored fourth overall.
“For the girls, we had a very solid day in a very tough meet,” Varty said.
Three girls placed All Conference: Cheresa Bouley (5th), Annica Carr (23rd), Katelyn Gramstad (29th). There were also two honorable mentions: Sophie Riewe (44th) and Anna Eich (48th).