Girls and 16U Hockey Teams Hoping to Win First State Championships

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Senior Katelinn Cummings blocks a shot in front of senior Hanna Markel in action earlier this season.

(March 9, 2017) This weekend, the Northwood Boys 16U and the Northwood Girls team will be playing for their respective state championships in Buffalo, New York. If they win, they will be earning a spot at the 2017 USA Hockey National Championships to be held in early April in Pittsburgh for the boys, and Plymouth (Michigan) for the girls. The boys left last night after dinner, and the girls depart later today.

Follow both teams on their quest for a state championship:

Our staff sat down with each coach to gain insight into their preparation for the weekend:

 

 

Gilly

Coach Trevor Gilligan ’03

Questions for 16U Coach Trevor Gilligan:

 

What is your team going to need to do to be successful?

Coach Gilligan said that discipline will be a huge factor in these games, just like any other playoff game. He wants his guys to stay out of the penalty box. In reverse, they will need to capitalize on their chances when the other team takes a penalty: The power play needs to execute. Two other factors that will lead to success will be to always have a defense-first mindset, and to make smart puck decisions. Coach Gilligan said that his team will just need to “stick to the process like we have done for all 63 games so far this year.”

Have you made (or will you be making) any changes to increase chances for success?

Coach Gilligan stated that no structural changes will be made; they will stick to the same structure they have used all year. However, he has noticed the team’s first three games will be on olympic ice sheets (ice rinks that are 15 feet wider from sideboard to sideboard for the non-hockey experts) so they have practiced on the ‘32 rink this week at the Olympic Center. Gilligan said that “being acclimated to the bigger ice will give us an advantage.”

What is your message to the boys?

“It has been our goal since the first meeting to win the state championship,” Coach Gilligan said. “It has been a five month process, and we have a great opportunity, and we are ready.” His message to the team will be to enjoy it, have fun, and take the hesitation out of their games.

What is your goal for this postseason?

“Win the state championship,” Gilligan said immediately. He knows it is going to have to be a “game by game” mindset, but he wants to play for the championship on Sunday morning.

What will be your biggest challenge. Who might be your toughest competition?

Gilligan said the Buffalo Jr Sabers are going to be tough competition, as they are a top 10 team in country. Northwood will also face off against the Buffalo Regals, Westchester Express, and Syracuse Nationals. Gilligan said that “on paper, all the teams look like stiff competition.”

Is there something special about this being the first Northwood (boys) team eligible for nationals?

Gilligan says this experience is “extremely special, not only as a coach but as an alum. To be able to lead a group of guys to the first opportunity for a state championship is very exciting.” He also added that the 16U team this year has played the most games in school history. “There have been a lot of firsts,” he says. Also, there will be no 16U team next year, so it will be fitting to “go out on top.”

 

schoedel

Coach Lucy Schoedel

Questions for Girls Coach Lucy Schoedel:

 

What is your team going to need to do to be successful?

Coach Schoedel knows that she will need every line to contribute. Everyone needs to “fire at the same time.” She knows her team’s success has come when they play simply, but play together. Her team will need to do the little things the right way, and take pride in their play.

Have you made (or will you be making) any changes to increase chances for success?

“No, and that’s the beauty of it. It is a really simple formula,” Coach Schoedel said. She believes that if her girls are mentally and physically prepared, they will be successful. As a team, they need to go into the weekend confident, knowing they can beat any team they face. That is “half the battle,” she said. Gaining experience in big games and championship games has been a focus of the team. Coach Schoedel thinks that the Northwood Invitational and the NAPHA tournament have been very influential. She knows that her team will need to have that type of “confidence and vision” to finish in the big games.

What is your message to your team?

Schoedel’s message to the team is to manage distractions, and stay positive no matter what happens. She said that “if we do everything together, if we’re in it together, we’re going to be proud of whatever we have done at the end of the day, no matter the outcome.” After the girls’ team’s loss to Stanstead College last weekend, Schoedel talked to her team a lot about the journey they are on. It is bigger than this season and playoff run. She stated that “we (the team) have seen a lot of progress and effort over the last 4 years.” To her, it is important that “the girls will know they were part of something bigger than themselves”

What is your goal for this postseason?

Schoedel’s simple one word answer is: “Win.”

What will be your biggest challenge, who might be your toughest competition?

“Not being distracted,” Schoedel says. She knows her team has really good leadership. She also stated that, “tiredness can’t get in way; we need to finish hard and finish the right way no matter what.”

Is there something special about this being the first Northwood (girls) team eligible for nationals?
“It is special,” Schoedel says. For the girls who have competed in the past for a State Championship on different teams have a different understanding of this moment, but also the few girls who have not are very hungry for their first state title. Schoedel states that she “loves to be a part of it with them. Any time there is an opportunity for a first, it is always special.”

Follow both teams on their quest for a state championship:

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