Girls hockey builds through tough schedule

Jason Olson
Sports Editor

Bloomington adds sixth win over Holy Angels

Bloomington Jefferson girls hockey picked up its sixth win of the season coming Jan. 19 against Holy Angels 4-3 at Richfield Ice Arena.

Sophomores continued to provide the scoring power with Celena Rea and Bailey Burton each picking up three points as the points leaders for the Jaguars.

Sophomore Bailey Burton leads the Jaguars in scoring with 11 goals. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)
Sophomore Bailey Burton leads the Jaguars in scoring with 11 goals. (Sun Current staff photo by Jason Olson)

Burton scored twice Thursday to give her 22 points on 13 goals on the season while Rea has 16 points on 11 goals.
Coach Mike Ryan said she’s understanding that she has an extra gear to get around skaters to put more pucks on the net.

“Now that she’s had more success she’s doing that more frequently. She’s played great.”

Being a sophomore playing with the older juniors and seniors, Rea said she felt a bit intimidated but quickly got past that.

“They’re really nice and it’s fun once you get used to it. It takes a little bit to get there but once you do, it’s fun.”

When asked which game was the most rewarding so far this season, she said the 5-1 win over South St. Paul, at the Packer’s own Kaposia Classic on New Year’s Eve.

“Even though it was the last place game, I think the team still worked the hardest. We still played, had a lot of fun and a lot of (scoring) opportunities, which was nice,” Rea said.

Right now she’s playing on the all-sophomores line of Luci Bianchi and Julia Jones. “We have really good communication on the ice. We’re able to find each other and make good passes. It’s just fun being with them. We have a good time.”

Jefferson ends each practice with a light scrimmage where players test out new moves to evade a defenseman or unique moves to beat a goalie.

“There’s a lot of laughs cause we just have a lot of fun passing and being creative. A lot of good goals are scored, let’s just say that. And the coaches make it fun so everyone likes being on the ice.”

Tough schedule
Bloomington boasts a 6-13-1 overall record but 9-of-12 losses against ranked programs from both classes, meaning the schedule is among the toughest in the state. Coach Mike Ryan isn’t shying away from that challenge of facing teams like Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Edina, Blake or Dodge County but will look to revamp it a little bit coming into next season.

“We don’t mind playing good teams but to level the playing field would’ve been better so we have some games where our girls can gain some confidence in,” he said as they are 3-3-1 since Dec. 31. “I’m super happy with the attitude and effort and no matter what the scoreboard has read, the girls continue to work and support each other to get better.”

Youth program
That support extends into the community as each member of the program has helped out with the youth program.

Four girls are assigned to each youth team.

“Those little girls just absolutely eat it up,” Ryan said. “Yesterday we had four girls at the U10A practice. It’s pretty neat, like a little buddy or partnership program. It’s good for the high school girls to learn how to lead a drill and speak in front of the kids and not just have them push pucks around to set up cones but actually have to think up a drill, diagram it and run it.”

The reward for the younger players is an opportunity to see those varsity players in action and maybe get an autographed puck.

“So it’s just been a really fun year for what we’re trying to do,” Ryan said. “This group understands this is a foundation year for the next four-five seasons.”

Contact Jason Olson at jason.olson@ecm-inc.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsJason.