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Bemidji girls hockey team honored on awards night

The outstanding Bemidji High girls hockey team was honored Tuesday night at its annual Awards Night ceremony at the Commons.

Special guests were the 19 players who made up the small squad that reached the section 8AA final before bowing to Roseau.

It ended the year 19-6-2, three losses to the Rams and two others to Class A state champion Warroad.

It finished second in the section regular season standings behind Roseau and trailed only Warroad and Roseau in the Greater Minnesota Conference.

It was state ranked all season ending 12th in Class AA.

John Hunt of the Boosters Club welcomed the large audience, praising the team for its fine season.

He also pointed to a good year by the Boosters that ended in the black aided by a strong poster sale by the players.

The Club presented each of the three coaches with special gifts, honoring them for their efforts with the team this winter.

Coach Matt Menne, after extending his thanks to the parents, players, cheerleaders, Booster Club and all others aiding the team this winter, said the winning year was a very pleasant surprise since Bemidji entered play with limited numbers and had suffered heavy graduation losses from 2009.

"While we came up just short of our main goal of reaching the state, our kids rose to the occasion all season long, worked hard and did great things on the ice., It was really a fun season."

Assistant Kailee Jaeger also praised her girls for their hard work and dedication.

Assistant Keith Huerd praised the parents' support all year and extolled his players for making "great strides forward all season."

While citing the need for more numbers, he said the team should be able to provide another winning campaign in 2011.

Menne then introduced his 19 lettermen, the 19 representing the entire squad.

Cheerleader advisor Julie Boe introduced her six cheerleaders which included three sophs and two freshmen among their six members. She also was warm in her support of the parents who made the program a "family affair."

Menne returned to present a long list of awards earned by the skaters this year.

Named to the GMC All Conference team were Emily Larson, Annie Swartz, Jessica Hunt and Shelby Sauer.

The same foursome also was honored as this year's team captains, praised for their leadership and receiving captains plaques.

They were cited again for receiving honorable mention on the AP All State team.

Allie Lapp and Maria Thompson were GMC honorable mention selections.

Larson was named the team's Most Valuable Player.

She also was the recipient of the coveted Hobey Baker Award for her playing skills, sportsmanship and character.

Karleigh Wolkerstorfer earned Most Improved Player honors while Hunt and Swartz were cited for being named to the All State Academic team for bettering a 3.8 grade point average this year.

Named to lead the 2011 hockey team were Casey Miller and Amanda Hunt, elected by their peers.

One or two others could be added next fall after the completion of off season work.

Looking toward the future, Menne warned the returnees that equaling or bettering this year's performance will require even more work with many teams returning a large number of their squad.

He has set up a dry land training program for the coming months which will meet Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evening at Nymore Gardens.

He also urged time spent in the weight room for added strength and time spent shooting pucks along with participation in the summer hockey program.

For while 13 of the19 players return, they include only two freshmen and two sophomores with only limited numbers of players set to move up from the 14-Under team coached by Bill Merschman.

It appears Bemidji will again be unable to field a B Team next winter.

Earning their hockey letters this y ear are:

SENIORS: Annie Swartz, Jessica Hunt, Shelby Sauer, Emily Larson, Maria Thompson and Olivia Hruby

JUNIORS: Casey Miller, Amanda Hunt, Becca Gregg, Chaniel Nelson, Jane Johnson, Meghan Wannebo, Megan Phelps, Laura Thompson and Emily Denzer

SOPHOMORES: Allie Lapp and Caitlin Blotske

FRESHMEN: Alli Heifort and Karleigh Wolkerstorfer

Menne cited manager Nicole Ramos for her hard work through the winter, enabling the coaching staff to have more time to spend on the ice teaching and coaching.

Sauer shaded Lapp for the scoring lead this winter 37-35 with Nelson and Gregg reaching 21, Larson 16, Miller 15, the Hunts 11 each and Swartz 10.

Maria Thompson sported a 2.09 gpg average and 88.3 percent stops ratio.,

Laura Thompson, in far fewer appearances, ended at 1.33 and 90.2.