ROCHESTER, Minn. — The biggest stage in Minnesota hockey was never too big for Emma Schmitz.
The girls hockey state tournament wasn’t too big for her last year as a junior, when Schmitz scored five goals in three games.
It wasn’t too big last month, either, when the Rochester Lourdes senior scored both of her team’s goals — including the game-winner in overtime against South St. Paul — to help the Eagles win a state quarterfinal game for the first time in program history.
“When the lights are bright, that’s when she shines,” Lourdes head coach Jeff True said. “Her best hockey was at the end of the season. There’s not another player on our team who could take over a game like she did (against South St. Paul).”
For her play when the lights were brightest, and for her stellar performance for the Eagles over the course of her senior season, Schmitz is the Post Bulletin All-Area girls hockey Player of the Year.
“It was a great way to end my career,” Schmitz said of a second consecutive trip to state. “Last year was pretty good, too, but the ending this year, especially being able to go right on the bracket at state instead of left (winning a quarterfinal game). Those three games at state helped us seniors end our season in a good way. It was a good time for us all.”
Growing as a player
Schmitz led the Eagles in scoring in all three of her high school seasons, yet her goal totals dropped in each of the past two years, going from 34 as a sophomore to 30 as a junior and 24 as a senior.
But, True said, that’s what has made her such a special player. As her goals have decreased, her assists total has grown.
“She’s had that steady and rapid increase in assists,” True said. “She’s still a lethal scorer, but she has found more ways to get her teammates involved. It’s her mindset of ‘what can I do to help the team win?’
“She knows how to use her skills and abilities to draw attention from the opposing team and get pucks to her teammates. That really started to sink in in her junior year and it propelled her to a really great senior season.”
Schmitz finished her senior year with 24 goals and 58 points, giving her 88 goals and 88 assists for her high school career. She also may hold the program for posts and crossbars hit in a season.
“Her puck luck was horrible a majority of the year,” True said. “Every goal she scored was one she worked for, and she hit I don’t know how many posts. If she had any puck luck, she’d have had 80 points this year.”
Ready for the next chapter
Schmitz, a two-sport standout at Lourdes who also excelled on the soccer field, said it feels like “just yesterday” that she pulled on an Eagles jersey for the first time.
She’ll be back in that position this fall, as a freshman at NCAA Division I Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., a city of 60,000, just more than an hour northeast of New York City. The Pioneers women’s hockey team went 21-11 this winter, including winning 13 of its final 14 games.
Schmitz said she’s excited to help Sacred Heart take another step forward next season.
“It’ll be a huge change, but a good change,” she said. “I just want to have as much fun as I can. When I went out there (on an official visit), I just noticed how it feels like home. The coaches made me feel like part of the team and when I saw the campus I knew that was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life.”
Post Bulletin All-Area Girls Hockey Team
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 24-34—58
Why she made the team: Named All-State by Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association. … The leading scorer in Lourdes’ history, with 176 career points (88 goals, 88 assists). … Led the Eagles in scoring all three seasons of her career. … Finished 13th in the state with 31 assists. … Had eight points in six career state tournament games. … Had 18 points in her last nine games. … Committed to Division I Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
Soph. • Forward
2019-20 stats: 24-31—55
Why she made the team: Austin’s leading scorer (55 points) and team leader in assists (31). … Named First Team All-Big Nine Conference. … “Kate's strength is her power on her shot, she has one of the hardest shots in the Big Nine. She has great hockey sense and knows how to play without the puck,” Austin coach Troy Holtz said.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 26-23—49
Why she made the team: Named All-State by Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association. … Committed to play college hockey at Division I Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. … Helped the Eagles get off to a strong start this season with 25 points in the first eight games. … Had a team-best six short-handed goals. … Had six multi-goal games and three hat tricks this season. … Had 15 multi-point games as a senior.
Junior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 17-27—44
Why she made the team: Named All-State by Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association. … Committed to Division I Boston University. … The top-scoring defenseman in the state this season. … Led the Eagles in power-play goals (10). … Played in the High School Elite League last fall and played with the Minnesota Whitecaps U19 team in the North American Hockey Academy’s international tournament in Vermont over Labor Day weekend.
Senior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 11-10—21
Why she made the team: Third on the Wildcats in scoring this season, with 21 points. … Committed to play college hockey at Wisconsin-River Falls. … Named to the Academic All-State Team. … Team co-MVP. … The only southeastern Minnesota senior named to the Minnesota team for the National Invitation Tournament, scheduled for April 23-26 in Blaine. … Named to the USA High Performance Final 54.
Junior • Goalie
2019-20 stats: 14-10-1, 2.45 GAA, .913 save pct., 7 shutouts
Why she made the team: Had the top goals-against average (2.45) and most shutouts (7) among area goalies. … Her seven shutouts tied the team record for shutouts in a season. … Drawing interest from multiple college programs. … Named to the USA High Performance Final 54. … An assistant captain for the Wildcats. … Had five games of 40 or more saves this season.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 30-23—53
Why she made the team: Named First Team All-Big Nine Conference. … Led Austin in goals (30) and was second in assists (23) and points (53). … Had 13 special teams points, including three power-play and three short-handed goals. … Had 20 points in her last eight games.
Junior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 28-16—44
Why she made the team: Named First Team All-Big Nine Conference. … “Along with her tremendous hockey ability, she has amazing leadership qualities on and off the ice,” JM coach Mia Bruesewitz said. … Led the Rockets in scoring and had the team’s two short-handed goals this season.
Senior • Forward
2019-20 stats: 21-13—34
Why she made the team: Led the Wildcats in goals (21) and points (34). … Committed to Augsburg College, where she’ll play with former Wildcat Elly Strunk. … Team captain and MVP. … Named to Academic All-State Team.
Senior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 6-11—17
Why she made the team: Committed to Division I Union College in Schenectady, N.Y. … Rarely left the ice and played in all situations -- five-on-five, power play and penalty kill. … Recorded nine of her 17 points on special teams, including four power-play goals.
Senior • Defense
2019-20 stats: 4-16—20
Why she made the team: Red Wing’s second-leading scorer and top-scoring defenseman. … Recipient of the Hobey Baker High School Character Award. … Named First Team All-Big Nine Conference. … Had five multi-point games this season, including one five-point game.
Senior • Goalie
2019-20 stats: 18-12-0, 3.07 GAA, .878 save pct., 4 shutouts
Why she made the team: Two-year starter for the Eagles, played all but one period in goal this season. … Committed to play college hockey at Northland College in Ashland, Wis. … Recorded shutouts against four Section 1A opponents this season. … Made 28 saves in a 2-1 OT state quarterfinal win against South St. Paul.
Alexis Stich (junior, forward): 8-15—23
Samantha Krueger (soph., defense): 2-4—6
Shelby Davidson (junior, goalie): 9-8-0, 2.72 GAA, .927 save pct., 1 shutout
Kailey Birkestrand (freshman, forward): 8-7—15
Katherine Thorvilson (junior, forward): 3-7—10
DODGE COUNTY WILDCATS
Kennedy Kraus (senior, forward): 11-16—27
Elizabeth Fagerlind (junior, defense): 11-9—20
JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS
Ashley Koehler (senior, forward): 20-10—30
Anysia Heimer (senior, goalie): 7-16-0, 5.57 GAA, .850 save pct., 1 shutout
Sawyer Fleming (7th, forward): 11-15—26
Delaney Fleming (freshman, forward): 10-11—21
Abby Wick (junior, defense): 6-12—18
Devynn Priest (junior, forward): 18-7—25
Luella Bianco (junior, defense): 7-9—16
Maggie Augeson (junior, defense): 3-6—9
RED WING WINGERS
Hailey Ehlers (senior, goalie): 9-12-0, 4.47 GAA, .857 save pct., 3 shutouts
Eliza DiNatale (junior, forward): 29-9—38