'No going backwards': Sartell-Sauk Rapids girls excited for next season
After losing 13 seniors in 2020-2021, the Storm'n Sabres knew that the last season wouldn't be easy. The team has spent the past season acclimating young players to a varsity roster and has found new leaders all over the ice.
SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — Sartell-Sauk Rapids girls hockey lost 13 seniors after the 2020-2021 season, but instead of letting that put a damper on the upcoming year the team found new leaders on the ice to help build the squad back up.
The Storm'n Sabres wrapped up the season 6-18-2, with a close 2-1 loss in the Section 8AA quarterfinal against Brainerd/Little Falls to finish the year.
"It really showed how far we came this season," said head coach Marty Anderson of the close quarterfinal match.
"We had a lot of players who have never played varsity, that were new to our program ... We really thought after we turned the corner after the new year that we played our best hockey," Anderson said of the season as a whole.
The two leading scorers on the team demonstrate the younger player and older mentor dynamic that has developed on the team over the '21-'22 season.
Kelly Carriere, a senior captain, lead the Storm'n Sabres with 22 points, while freshman Brayley VanDenBerg was right behind her with 21.
"She really brought Brayley along nicely," said Anderson of Carriere. This was VanDenBerg's second season on varsity and the Storm'n Sabres will be looking to her next year to help fill the shoes of those leaving this offseason.
Anderson said that "Brayley will lead the way" with scoring next year, but that people should keep an eye on Faith Torborg and Olivia Schlecht (both will be freshman next year), along with Alison Andruschak and defenders Anna Lundeen, Tia Vogt and Peyton Sabart, who will all be seniors.
Also watch out for goaltender Morgan Dorn. "She's very good and she's really gotten better," Anderson said. Dorn started playing varsity as a freshman and posted a .892 save percentage this season as a sophomore.
"She has aspirations to play after high school and I think she'll achieve that," Anderson added.
Sartell-Sauk Rapids is also confident in their backup goaltenders which includes Lauren VanVickle who will be a freshman next year, and Brittney Wannarke who actually is still new to hockey after coming over from the lacrosse team last year.
Wannarke is known as the team cheerleader and one of the unsung heroes on the squad.
"We put her on the playoff roster because of her attitude and enthusiasm on the bench," Anderson said.
Another player that is a large creator of the team's culture is Peyton Sabart.
"She's what every team needs for that cohesive bond ... we've got eighth graders, we've got seniors, and they all know that they can lean on Peyton. She's kind of our spiritual leader," Anderson said.
Although next season won't be easy for Sartell-Sauk Rapids in both a competitive conference and section, they are excited to take on the challenge.
"We have to start at or above where we finished — no going backwards," Anderson said. That's the motto for the Storm'n Sabres heading into the offseason and into the fall.
The team is excited to pick up where they left off as a more experienced group that returns most of their key players.
For more on Sartell-Sauk Rapids' season, Anderson's favorite memories of the year, and what it's like to coach a co-op program, listen to the full podcast or watch the video below.