Jane Kuehl (17) got the puck past East Ridge goalie Emerald Kelley (35) for a goal in the first period Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kuehl sisters — senior Annie and freshman Jane — are one of four sets of sisters on the Edina girls’ hockey team. Annie had the benefit of previous state tournament experience that she can share with her younger sister. Jane seemed to adjust pretty well, scoring Edina’s first goal in its quarterfinal victory against East Ridge.
Annie called it one of the best games she’s seen her sister play.
“She’s really good with keeping all the underclassmen in line,” said Annie, who has committed to Princeton and had two assists in the game. “I think she acts as a leader for them, and I think it helps to have an older sister on the team just to help show her the way.”
Jane centers the third line on the deep roster. She said playing with her sister in the state tournament is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“It’s just great to have my sister there with me,” Jane said.
Added coach Sami Reber: “And they actually don’t bicker. I know it might be shocking, but they don’t.”
The other sisters on the team include Star Tribune All-Metro selection senior CC Bowlby and sister Lucy, a junior forward; sophomores Gwen and Lily Hendrikson and the Jungels sisters Tella, a junior, and Vivian, a freshman.
East Ridge tourney debut is ‘huge’
East Ridge coach Kim McClintick reflected a bit after her team’s quarterfinal loss in its state tournament debut to defending champ Edina. Coming into a season as a coach, people will ask her why she puts in all the effort to coach in between things like her full-time job. Then she sees her players smiling and taking pictures on the bench at Xcel Energy Center before their state tournament game.
“That’s why,” McClintick said. “It’s just captured right there. The smiles on their faces, the memories they’re going to have from this tournament and this weekend.”
It makes all the late nights watching film and planning for practice worth it, McClintick said.
Even though East Ridge was shut out with a tough draw against No. 1-seeded Edina, making the tournament was huge, McClintick said, for a program with a relatively new high school (opened in 2009) and a youth program that goes to both Woodbury and East Ridge high school programs. With a split talent pool, people might opt for hockey programs at Cretin-Derham Hall or Hill-Murray, McClintick said.
“It’s huge to say, ‘Hey, we’re a public school and we can go to the state tournament without having to go off to a private school or hockey school,’ ” McClintick said. “It’s unbelievably huge.”
Junior forward Fiona Claugherty agreed that it’s hard to have two programs in one city. But she also sees the positive effect of the success East Ridge had his season. For one thing, they had plenty of fans at the game with youth players who made signs for them.
“Our youth program supports us the whole time,” Claugherty said. “That’s our goal is to get them to want to play on our team, and I think it’s working right now.”
Division I pipeline flowing
The biggest contributor of Division I girls’ hockey players for 2019 at the high school level this season is White Bear Lake, according to FollowthePuck.com, a hockey-based website.
The Bears have four seniors who are committed to Division I hockey programs. They are defensemen Abigail DeLaRosa (Bemidji State) and Lauren MacLean (Merrimack), forward Sydney Shearen (Minnesota) and goalie Calla Frank (Minnesota State Mankato).
Beyond 2019, the first Class 2A state quarterfinal game between Andover and Farmington featured seven underclassmen who have verbally committed to Division I programs.
Andover, which won the game 7-1, has four of them: freshman Madison Kaiser (Minnesota) and sophomores Halle Fields (Sacred Heart), Peyton Hemp (Minnesota) and Gabby Krause (Minnesota Duluth). Farmington has freshman Claire Enright, who will be with Kaiser at Minnesota in four years, as well as Brenna Fuhrman (Minnesota-Duluth) and Jayden Seifert (Minnesota State Mankato.
Both teams will graduate three seniors in 2019, meaning they will have plenty of returning talent into the 2019-20 season.
“With just how young we are, working in the summer and working next year, they’re just going to keep getting better,” Farmington senior Cassie Knutson said. “And I have no doubt that they’ll do something great again next year.”
No special treatment
White Bear Lake goaltender Calla Frank shone through the Section 4 playoffs, playing 11 consecutive periods without giving up a goal. In the Bears’ Class 2A quarterfinal game against Brainerd/Little Falls, the Warriors focused on crashing the net, blocking Frank’s vision and not treating her special, according to Brainerd/Little Falls head coach Jim Ernster.
“If you put ‘em up on a pedestal too much that can kind of hinder you and kind of create a mental block. So we just continued to stress those same types of things that made us successful in the section playoffs,” Ernster said.