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Storm girls have best season in program's history

Brooke Anderson, Kelly Mahoney, and Dani Schultz pose with the Storms' runner-up trophy.

The 2009-2010 season was the most successful in the 12-year history of the Morris Benson Area girls' hockey program. This season the Storm girls finished with a 23-3 overall record and earned the Section 6A runner-up trophy. No other varsity Storm team has had that high of a winning percentage, nor has any team advanced to the section championship game.

The Storm had earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament and a bye in the first round. The girls advanced to the title game by defeating Fergus Falls 6-1 in the semifinal. The Storm season came to a close one game shy of the state tournament with a 3-1 loss to Alexandria in the Section 6A final.

"Unfortunately, somebody had to lose," said Storm coach Jeff Mahoney. "It's a shame the rest of the state didn't get to see our small group of girls. It would have been a great story."

The Storm's play throughout the season did get them noticed in the state with a ranking as high as 17th in Class A.

The Storm found a home this season, joining a conference for the first time, and ended up winning the Southwest Conference.

"It's a lot of fun being part of a conference,"said Mahoney.

The girls only gave up five goals in conference games and finished the schedule undefeated.

That was one of the team's goals this season. Besides taking first in the conference, the Storm also realized two other goals, defeating Alexandria (3-1 on Nov. 21) and most importantly, filling the roster.

Two foreign exchange students helped fill the team. Karen Simonsen had never played hockey in Norway, but scored in her first game with the Storm. She ended up scoring three goals and recorded three assists this season. Caroline Westberg had played a lot of hockey in Sweden and was able to contribute to the team with 13 goals and another 22 assists.

Along with the two foreign exchange students, three seniors skated their final ice time for the Storm.

Rebekah Larsen of Morris returned to the Storm after a two-year hiatus, but her season ended early with a broken collar bone against Pequot Lakes. She did score three goals and had six assists before her injury.

"She was starting to play really well," said Mahoney. "We could have used her."

Brooke Anderson of Morris filled a variety of roles for the Storm. She finished the season with 17 goals and 26 assists.

"Brooke played forward, defense, and center," said Mahoney. "She had a good season."

Mariah Hovde was the Benson senior on the roster. She recorded four goals and nine assists for the Storm.

"Mariah hadn't seen a lot of playing time, but she did a good job stepping up as a forward."

Six juniors and an eighth grader will return for the Storm next fall.

Morris junior Dani Schultz was not only the team's leading scorer, but she led the entire state in total points with 124, goals scored with 68, and assists recorded with 56.

"She's closing in on a 300-point career," said Mahoney. "She's a girl with a motor that doesn't quit. She's a great leader and an unselfish player."

Minnewaska's Sam Falk was next in scoring with 37 goals and 39 assists. She was ranked 10th in the state with 76 points.

"She really established herself as a point scorer."

Kelly Mahoney of Morris completed what the coach calls his "Easton line." She recorded 16 goals and 30 assists.

"Kelly is more of a grit-type player. She does what we ask of her. Partly because she's the coach's kid, but she's not into stats."

Benson's Sara Rajewsky scored 40 goals and recorded 28 assists.

"She's got the raw skills. One-on-one, it's hard to beat that girl," Mahoney said. "She made immense improvement as a team player."

Goalie Brooke Falk of Minnewaska played every game in the Storm's net this season. She recorded 440 saves and nine shut outs.

"She's right up there with the top goalies in the state," said Mahoney. "She brought a lot of stability."

As a defensive player, Monica Lindblad of Benson scored nine goals and had 25 assists.

"She really came into her own as a defensive player," said Mahoney. "One of the keys was moving her to forward, which gave her an appreciation of the other positions."

As an eighth grader, Benson's Morgan DeHaan scored two goals and assisted on eight.

"She made a lot of strides," Mahoney said. "We saw a more aggressive, tenacious side. She got to see a lot of ice time when we had the lead."

Mahoney said the team's success this season brought some new spectators out to the rinks. He appreciates the Storm's loyal fans, those who have followed the team through the years, as well as their new fans.

"It's a lot of fun and energetic to play in front of a crowd," Mahoney said. "The girls commented on how they feed off that energy."

Mahoney isn't worried about filling the team next season.

"Somebody always steps up," he said. Plus, he has already worked with five seventh graders from Benson and an eighth grader from Morris.

Next season, the Storm will once again work to achieve those same goals along with their other two: winning the Willmar tournament and making it to the state championship.