Ask senior skater Dani Sibley what makes a successful season, and she'll have one response for you.
"Beat Buffalo," she said. "And make state again."
The North Wright County RiverHawks girls' hockey team can complete the season sweep of the Bison, and put the clamps on a Mississippi 8 Conference Championship (or at least a share) with a win tonight in Monticello, when they host their rivals.
The RiverHawks got a huge perofrmance in net from Alex Lamere in the first meeting of these two teams, a 1-0 decision in Buffalo.
This time, however, Amanda Koep, a St. Michael-Albertville senior, has the hot hand going in. Lamere was good in Friday night's 13-2 win over Princeton, but Saturday, against a superior opponent (over Princeton), Koep had a huge third period to lift the Hawks to a 5-4 win over Wayzata. On the Trojans' home ice.
"This is kind of what we expected from her this season," said Tim Hanson of his senior goalie's performance as of late. Koep has been huge in the Hawks' seven-game win streak, with big perforamances against Cambridge, highly-ranked Orono and Rogers along the way to Wayzata. She stopped 28 shots, in all, vs. the Trojans.
She hasn't done it alone. The Hawks' defense was solid against Wayzata, blocking shots and turning back chances. Kaleigh Hamann, a sophomore, had three blocks on the defensive side.
And the defense has been scoring. Emily Achterkirch has developed into a sniper, Hanson said. The sophomore defenseman four goals (three vs. the Tigers for her first hat trick) and three assists over the two-game stretch last weekend.
Hanson said his squad's play wasn't the best at Wayzata, but was good enough to pull out the win.
"I think our power play, which was three for six, was the key. When you don't play our best and you get a win over a quality opponent, things are going in the right direction for you as a club. That's where we are going right now–in the right direction at the right time," Hanson said.
Now, for the season sweep.
"There's still such a rivalry there, you don't want a split," Koep said. "You want bragging rights. And you want to get that conference championship back. So someone has to step up and show that we want it more than they do."
Faceoff tonight is at 7 p.m. The Hawks return to when they host Hutchinson Tuesday, Jan. 31.