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First year coach sees potential in Storm girls

The Morris Benson Area Storm 2013-2014 girls varsity hockey team included (front from left) Emily Walz, Hallie Watzke, Nicole Peterson, Hanna Lindblad, (back from left) Nicole Berens, Kelsey Rajewsky, Kamri Kalthoff, Morgan DeHaan, Abby Daly, Holli Christians, Megan Kirkeide, head coach Jim Berens, and Kayla Benson. (Photo by Jennifer Pederson Photography)2 / 3
Morris Benson Area Storm girls hockey players that received awards at the winter sports banquet in Morris on Monday, March 10: Holli Christians (left) named Most Improved and Abby Daly (right) named Most Valuable Defense. Benson skaters Hanna Lindblad (MVP) and Kelsey Rajewsky (Hardest Worker) also received their respective awards.3 / 3

The Morris Benson Area Storm girls hockey program battled a tough season with a new coaching staff, a new bookkeeping staff, and a short roster. Though the expectation wasn’t in their favor at the beginning of the season, the Storm did manage to win a few games to end with an overall record of 4-17.

It was a shorter season with the harsher-than-normal Minnesota winter, but the girls managed four wins this season: two against Lake of the Woods, one against Worthington, and one against Windom. Three-out-of-four wins were home contests with two-out-of-three of those home contests being held at the Lee Community Center in Morris.

First time head coach Jim Berens and assistant coach Mike Curtis both stayed positive when asked about the short roster this season, having 12 girls, some games only suiting up eight due to injuries, etc.

“They didn’t lack ice time that’s for sure,” Berens chuckled. “They had all the ice time they wanted and I thought they did really well with the short roster we had. We were impressed with the way the girls handled themselves.”

The Storm started out the season, and many people had their doubts about how successful a year it was going to be.

“Many people thought we weren’t going to do that well, or even win a game,” Head coach Jim Berens said. “We did have four wins, but if you watched us play throughout the season, you could see that we were improving all around. Those types of things don’t necessarily show up on the scoreboard, but as a coach, you see it in practices and in games, you see the improvements these kids are making from that first day of practice to the last game of the season.”

In the win over Worthington, for example, the Storm had over 60 shots on net compared to barely averaging 20 shots per game prior.

“Worthington was a big win for us in that aspect. Sixty shots when our shot record was so low, that was huge,” assistant coach Mike Curtis said. “We really started executing plays better offensively and pressuring more effectively on defensive in the second half of the season.”

The coaches announced team awards at the sports banquet on Monday, March 10 in Morris. Hanna Lindblad of Benson won Most Valuable Player, and Hardest Worker was awarded to Kelsey Rawjewsky, also of Benson. Holli Christians of Morris was named Most Improved, taking on nearly 450 shots in the net for the Storm.

“That’s a lot [of shots],” Berens said. “She did a great job throughout the year and definitely deserved this award.”

Abby Daly took home Most Valuable Defenseman, and she actually found herself in the net a few times this season, too, along with Hallie Watzke.

“For not having a lot of experience in the net, they did really well,” Berens said. “I’m glad we’ll have over 90 percent of our players back next season, plus anyone new that comes out to skate.”

All West Central Conference winner for the Storm was Nicole Berens. Lindblad went home with a honorable mention for the Storm this season.

“I was really impressed with the way the girls came together and worked with each other, coming from two rivalry schools I wasn’t sure what to expect,” Berens said. “We had a lot of fun.”

The girls return all, but lone senior Morgan DeHaan, so next season and future seasons are looking up for the girls hockey program.

“The girls improved really well this season,” Berens said. “They made a lot of positive strides, especially towards the end of the year. Hopefully, we can pick up from there next season and go from there.”

Brooke Kern

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