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Girls hockey: Irish open season next week

The warm November weather outside might not lead many to believe the winter sports season is right around the corner, but the Rosemount girls hockey team is already busy preparing for its season.

For Irish coach Tracy Cassano the early preparations are important, as her team faces increased expectations.

Rosemount is ranked No. 17 in the first Class 2A poll of the season. While Cassano isn't focused on the outside presumptions, she isn't afraid to share her optimism for this season.

"Just with where we left off last season and just the fact that one of our strengths is we have a more veteran and experienced team with quality senior leadership," Cassano said. "Everybody is a little older, smarter, faster, all the things you want. They saw last year what it takes to go through the playoffs like we did, getting to the section finals. That is game experience that will help out this year. Knowing what it takes to strive for those accomplishments and we'll perform from the get-go knowing that we can. Expectations are high."

The Irish open the season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. against Park. They traveled to Duluth last weekend for three scrimmages, going 2-1 in the jamboree against Hill-Murray, Robbinsdale Cooper, and a team composed of Duluth area high school players.

Rosemount has 13 players back from last season, including all-conference performers Allison Micheletti and Rachael Kelly. Goaltender Caitlin Dantzscher, honored as the team's MVP last season, also returns.

Forwards Sarah Tollefson, Taylor Sampson, Allison Warweg and Lauren Riley all return after reaching double figures in points last season. Kelly, Micheletti and Amanda Wilson are the team captains.

"I think one of our strengths and areas of potential is offensive power," Cassano said. "We expect to come out and run an effective power play and be toward the top of the conference in power play goals and goals for. One area we always try to improve is goals against. It's something we want to improve on. The last couple of years, we've always known the offense is going to be there."

Dantzscher provides the final line of defense in goal. Sophomore Kendra Goodrich participated in national camps this summer and made an elite national all-star team. The Irish might also have another talented freshman in Kristin Reuter ready to provide help on defense.

"We had the scrimmages, but they'll be chomping at the bit to get in a game here" Cassano said.