“I’m liking the direction we’re in”
by Than Acuff
The West Elk Wolverines girls hockey team won both games over the weekend against the New Mexico Mustangs by a combined score of 12-0 to remain at the top of the league standings with a record of 7-0-1.
Despite having a thin bench, the girls are gaining steam with each weekend as their fitness and skills continue to progress. Anika Anderson has proven to be the top goalie in the league with three shutouts in a row and the lowest goals against average in the league.
The team opened the two-game road trip on Saturday, January 21 on fire outshooting New Mexico 45-5 and finishing with a 3-0 win. The Wolverines were held scoreless in the first period but finally broke the seal two minutes into the second period when Kendl Santelli shot from the side and slipped the puck between the pads of the New Mexico goalie.
“That helped us get on the board finally,” says coach GJ Santelli.
One minute later the Wolverines struck again when Bryar Robbins tipped in a rebound to put the Wolverines up 2-0 and pressing hard.
“We’d been working on rebound goals and that one was textbook,” says Santelli. “Then we were just off and running.”
The Wolverines ultimately tallied 20 shots on goal in the second period alone and while New Mexico’s netminder was spot-on, the Wolverines tacked on a third goal late in the period when Jaden Cavarra found Santelli open in the high slot with a pass and Santelli finished.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines team play kept New Mexico buried in their zone for most of the game and the Wolverines cruised to the 3-0 win.
“We put the heavy forecheck on them and they couldn’t get anything going and our back-checking was so strong we shut them down on shooting too,” says Santelli. “It was a great game for us.”
The Wolverines got a boost to their line-up for the second game on Sunday, January 22 as double-roster players Jansen Lucas and Ruby Barron joined the team. With a deeper bench and confidence running high, Santelli had the team focus on a specific task for game two.
“The game plan was teamwork,” says Santelli.
The players heeded his call for team play and the effort paid off in spades as the Wolverines jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period.
“It was an incredible first period,” says Santelli.
Kathryn Guerrieri opened the scoring in the third minute of the game with a blistering slapshot from the point off a pass from Sierra D’Aquila. Santelli netted the second Wolverines goal four minutes later and then Hailey Shrieves blasted another shot from the point through traffic for a 3-0 Wolverines lead.
“We were working on getting the puck to the point and getting traffic in front of the net,” says Santelli.
D’Aquila then put the Wolverines up 4-0 to add a goal to her two assists in the period and the Wolverines throttled back a hair to work on puck possession for the remainder of the game. Lucas scored in the second period and Shrieves capped the scoring with a goal in the third period to seal the 6-0 Wolverines win.
“It was terrific team play, off the charts,” says Santelli.
The team will have the next couple of weekends off to rest and recover before returning to league play when they head to Vail February 11-12.
“We have a break, which is good,” explains Santelli. “I’m liking the direction we’re in.”