Girls hockey: Stacked Warriors ready for state run
WARROAD, Minn. -- Sharing the spotlight is fine with Layla Marvin. The junior is one of the top scorers in the high-octane offense of the Warroad High School girls hockey team, which will be making its second straight appearance in the Minnesota ...
WARROAD, Minn. -- Sharing the spotlight is fine with Layla Marvin.
The junior is one of the top scorers in the high-octane offense of the Warroad High School girls hockey team, which will be making its second straight appearance in the Minnesota Class A high school tournament this week.
But in Warroad, the self-proclaimed Hockeytown USA, there are two big women's hockey stories this week. In Vancouver, Warroad native Gigi Marvin -- Layla's cousin -- is a member of the United States women's hockey team that is playing in the semifinals of the 2010 Olympics today.
"Gigi at the Olympics is a big deal," Layla Marvin said. "The Olympics only happen every four years, and only so many girls make that team. Gigi's made a huge accomplishment. We're all proud of her.
"For us, we were expected to go to state. We've been ranked No. 1 all season. But Warroad is a big hockey town. It's all pretty exciting."
Warroad has made its own excitement on the ice this season. The Warriors are 25-1-1 and averaging 6.9 goals per game. After being ranked first in the Class A state poll all season, Warroad takes the No. 1 seed into its state quarterfinal game against Chisago Lakes Area at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Minneapolis.
A year ago, Warroad was runner-up at state, spotting Blake School a 3-1 lead after one period and falling short in a comeback bid in a 4-3 loss.
"That Blake team was an older team," Warroad coach David Marvin said. "Now we're going there with an experienced team.
"I think we're a better team this year. When you've got eight to 10 kids who work at their game 12 months a year like we have, they're going to get better. They push each other."
No flaws in Warroad's game
Warroad has had five players to reach the career 100-goal mark. Two of them are in the current lineup, Brook Story (136) and Karley Sylvester (100).
They're part of the quality offensive depth of the team, which has six players with 60 or more points.
"We're an offensive team," David Marvin said. "We attack people. Teams have trouble defending us because we have two first lines. And we don't give up a lot of scoring opportunities because we don't give the puck up much."
Freshman Kayla Gardner (19 goals, 41 assists) centers a line with juniors Sylvester (39-43) and Layla Marvin (27-50). Freshman Lisa Marvin (21-44) centers a line with senior Story (37-27) and sophomore Megan Brettingen (19-41). And there's a big point producer on the defensive unit with sophomore Hannah Johnston (12-23).
"They're all very unselfish," David Marvin said. "That's one of the big reasons for our success. It's pretty rare to have this much talent and to have them all play so unselfishly."
Warroad doesn't need a lot of goals to succeed. The Warriors have allowed only 14 goals all season and only twice have allowed more than one goal in a game. Junior goalie Shelby Amsley-Benzie anchors the defense. She has 16 shutouts, a .971 save percentage and a 0.50 goals-against average.
"We have a good offense, and our goalie is top notch," Layla Marvin said. "They don't come any better than Shelby. That's why we've done well. Our offense and our defense feed off of each other. We have each other's backs."
The Warriors hope that the season highlights still are ahead of them.
"It was more exciting getting to state last year," Layla Marvin said. "We'd lost in the section final two straight years. Then we beat Roseau, our big rival, in overtime in the section championship. But this is still exciting."
Said David Marvin: "This team has bigger goals than just getting to state. They're a pretty motivated bunch. They want to be in the championship game; they want to win it."
Warroad will have its eyes on two things in women's hockey this week -- Gigi Marvin's bid for a gold medal at the Olympics and Warroad High School's bid for a state high school title.
To achieve both, "that would be pretty darn nice," David Marvin said.
DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to email@example.com .