Flyers win state girls hockey title
March 05. 2013 3:38PM
Prior to the girls state hockey tournament, Sioux Falls coach Brian Wrightsman put it out there that his Flyers were a team that nobody wanted to face when they were on top of their game.
The Flyers backed up their coach’s claim at Bergman Arena on Sundday with a 4-1 win over Mitchell in the championship game for their first title since 2008 and eighth overall as a program.
Considering the Flyers were 5-15-1 a season ago and hadn’t been a contender since their last title, this season’s path to the cup was an unprecedented one for the current group. The Flyers went 10-10-1 this season and entered the tournament as the five seed.
“None of these girls had ever played for a state championship — or even been in a winner’s bracket at state,” said Wrightsman. “But our girls played so well on the forecheck and on the aggressive, had the puck bounced right once or twice, it would have been an 8-1 game.”
Brandon Valley freshman Hanna Mutschelknaus led the scoring on Sunday, much like she did all season, with a pair of goals while junior Kayla Nack added a goal and a pair of assists, including one on a Jennika Wrightsman score that gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Mitchell’s Kylie Barington knotted the score three minutes later with a power play goal, however Mutschelknaus’ first goal had Sioux Falls back on top by the end of the period. Nack pushed the lead to 3-1 just 48 seconds into the second while Mutschelknaus made it a three-goal game midway through the period.
Needless to say, Sunday’s championship went considerably smoother than Saturday’s semifinal against Aberdeen, which knocked off top-seeded and four-time defending champion Brookings in the first round.
The Flyers got down 3-1 at the midway point in that game before a tweak on offense led to a pair of Alex Bettmeng goals and a score from Maddie Elkins, all within a five-minute stretch that sealed the comeback.
“We started chasing the puck around and got caught running around,” Wrightsman said. “You can’t do that, especially against Aberdeen. Being the 8-seed, they had everything to win and nothing to lose.”
Although Mutschelknaus’ four goals and Nack’s six points (two goals, four assists) were tied for second-most of the tournament and led a team effort on offense, the Flyers’ defense was the cornerstone of the championship.
Brittany Corcoran picked up each of the three tournament victories behind a 1.67 goals-against-average (tied for first among starting goalies) and a .918 save percentage, good for third among goalies in the tourney.
“Our defense played phenomenal – they moved the puck, kept the girls away from our goalie and our goalie played great,” Wrightsman said. “There were a couple this weekend where she got screened and couldn’t see, but anything she was able to see she stopped.”
In the tournament opener Friday, the Flyers defeated Watertown 3-1.
Flyers JV win state title week earlier
The Sioux Falls Flyers junior varsity won their division state title a week earlier on the ice at the 4-H Ice Arena in Brookings.
And once again, Brandon Valley’s Hanna Mutschelknaus played a key role in capturing the state title. Mutschelknaus led the Flyers with four goals in their 5-2 win over the Brookings Rangers. The Brandon Valley freshman put Sioux Falls on the board unassisted with 3:59 remaining in the first period, and then put Sioux Falls ahead 2-0 less than five minutes into the second period. She scored once more in the second period, with 2:50 remaining, when Brookings’ Jessica Laidlaw answered back to make it a 3-1 game with 2:25 left in the second. Mackenzie Oien ended the second period scoring a goal for Sioux Falls, putting them ahead 4-1.
Mutschelkhaus then scored the Fylers last goal less than two minutes into the third period, putting them ahead 5-1. Brookings was unable to score until 1:24 remained in the game, ending behind Sioux Falls 5-2.
Sioux Falls head coach Brian Wrightsman said the win felt good because his team didn’t have to make any changes to pull off the win.
“There’s a little rivalry between the two teams,” he said. “We’re one of the only teams in the state to skate four lines, and we do it the whole game. Our plan coming into the game — the four lines, the defense — that’s what we used the whole game, and we played well.”
Although Mutschelkhaus played a major role in her team’s win, she said she couldn’t have done it without the rest of her teammates.
“It was a team effort to get the win, and it feels great,” she said. “We played Brookings last year as well, so it felt good to beat them in this tournament.”
In addition to Mutschelknaus, six other Brandon Valley student-athletes are on the Flyers roster: Kaylee Mork, Kia Mork, Carson Haase, Molly Drexler, Taylor Dawley and Jennika Wrightsman.