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GIRLS HOCKEY WRAP State run raises bar for DL girls' hockey program

Gretchen Norby helped direct the Lakers to their first state tourney in her head coaching debut.

The spark which ignited the historic Detroit Lakes girls' hockey state run ironically came in the season finale's 1-0 loss to Sartell.

It was a game in which the Lakers started gaining confidence and their freshman goalie Veronica Badurek started laying the foundation of becoming a playoff performer.

What resulted was DL's first-ever berth in the Class 1A state playoffs, a season which can be looked upon as a launching pad for establishing a consistent winning program.

"The Sartell game was the best one we could have ended the season on," said first-year head coach Gretchen Norby. "It was one of our best games of the season against a very good team. It was a huge confidence booster for Veronica (Badurek).

"It was when she started believing in herself."

That momentum rolled into the Section 8-1A playoffs, where DL earned the No. 2 seed and a home playoff opener against Fergus Falls.

The Lakers toppled their rivals, which put them in their section finals debut against No. 1 seeded Alexandria, which has made the championship game its annual destination.

The two teams had split their season series prior.

"We didn't think we were huge underdogs, but underdogs nonetheless," Norby said. "They probably overlooked us. I heard by rumor Alex had already booked their rooms down in St. Paul, so I shared that with the girls before the game.

"That lit a fire underneath them."

Instead, it was the Lakers who were booking hotels for the state tournament, their first such appearance in DL's history.

The state tournament was a good learning experience, despite a 13-1 loss to Warroad in the quarterfinals and a tough 5-4 double overtime loss to New Ulm in the consolation bracket.

"We knew what we were going up against in Warroad, but the girls still enjoyed their experience," Norby said.

For Norby, who was one of the original Laker players on the first DL high school team, her first season as coach was a thrill with an abundance of ups and downs.

"It definitely was memorable," Norby said with a laugh. "I knew all along the girls didn't know how good we were going to be. But they gained confidence and we became a good team at the end of the season."

The Lakers' first state berth included their senior playmakers, including All-State Honorable Mentioned honorees forward Brianna Seebold and defender Callie Johnson.

Seebold finished her senior season with 25 goals and 19 assists, while Johnson notched seven goals and 20 assists.

Seebold also wrapped up her career as the Lakers' all-time leading scorer.

"Brianna was a true hockey player and she played with a lot of heart, which separated her from others," Norby said. "She developed into an excellent leader and we will definitely miss her."

Johnson was moved from forward to defense, but she still was able to provide a solid scoring option.

"Playing defense isn't the most glamorous position to play, but she took on the role and did an excellent job," Norby added. "The nice thing about Callie was we were able to use her where ever we needed her."

Badurek was a key in the section playoffs, especially against Alexandria, after shutting out the Cardinals in the 2-0 win.

She developed throughout the season, along with sophomore goalie Veronica Roy.

But by the time the end of the season rolled around, Badurek was showing the hot glove.

"Ronny took the team on her shoulders during the playoffs," Norby said. "Veronica Roy was also a goalie who stepped up her play and she did what we asked of her."

Seniors Emily Raboin, Ashley Friesen and Heidi Nelson also were big contributors, Norby said.

"Emily Raboin became a leader on defense and one who always led by example," the DL coach said.

Junior forward Emily Payne also looked like she may be able to pick up some of the scoring slack which will be left by Seebold, after she had two goals against Fergus Falls in the sections and a natural hat trick against New Ulm in the state playoffs.

She will be joined by a young cast who gained experience this year in eighth graders Chandra Johnson, Hailey Sonstegard, Sydney Haman, Emily Seebold and Randa Larsen.

There will be holes to fill like every other year, but this time, the Lakers have a golden bar to reach for after the 2011-12 team set certain expectations.

"Our expectations are higher after what this team accomplished this year," Norby said. "But who contributes the most will be in part of who works the hardest during the off season."

Laker results

The 2011-12 season stats for the Detroit Lakes girls' hockey team -- Record: 9-13 (Section 8-1A champions).

Offensive stats (goals-assists-points) -- Brianna Seebold 25-19-44; Callie Johnson 7-20-27; Emily Payne 9-14-23; Sydney Haman 5-6-11; Emily Raboin 2-9-11; Chandra Johnson 4-7-11; Hailey Sonstegard 6-4-10; Ashley Friesen 5-4-9; Emily Seebold 5-4-9; Randa Larsen 3-3-6; Heidi Nelson 0-5-5; Molly Hill 3-1-4; Tarrissa Wheeler 2-1-3; Annikka Anderson 0-2-2; Veronica Badurek 0-1-1. TEAM: 76-68-144.

Goalie (W-L-SV-sv percentage) -- Veronica Badurek 4-10-375-.864; Veronica Roy 5-3-183-.863.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.