The Minot Majettes’ hockey program has some big skates to fill this season, as the program lost six seniors to graduation, including All-State forward Taylyn Cope. A year ago, Cope was the top point scorer for the Majettes, with 17 goals and 12 assists. Graduating alongside her was Payton Land who accounted for 25 points.
Together, Minot High needs to replace over half of its offensive production from a team that finished third at last year’s state tournament.
Don’t count the Majettes out though. They still have plenty of weapons returning. Anchored by senior All-State goalie Jillian Ackerman, who finished her junior season with a 93.9 save percentage and two shutouts, Minot High also returns senior Maicee Burke for one more season. Ackerman and Burke are both captains of this year’s team.
“A really good thing about Maicee is that she loves to compete,” said Minot High girls’ hockey co-head coach MaKayla Neuhalfen. “She’s here to win and having that on our team is huge.”
Another key player back this season is Brynn Hanson. Hanson finished with 13 goals and 13 assists to finish second on the team in scoring a year ago.
“Brynn does not like to lose,” said Neuhalfen. “And that competitive side definitely helps bring out the competitiveness out of everyone else too.”
Other contributors returning are sophomore Yvonne Slind, who finished with seven goals and seven assists as a freshman, junior Fallon Fagerlund and defender Sydnee Bartsch.
Many other underclassmen will also be asked to step into increased roles as the season progresses.
Neuhalfen sees little separation among the top teams in the state, and every game will impact seeding for the state tournament.
“Honestly, the whole state is really close,” said Neuhalfen. “I think it’s anyone’s game. Every game this year is going to be super close, and it’s going to come down to the end when standings come down for state, it could be one or two points of separation.”
Hanson echoed those sentiments.
“Everyone from the East is always going to be hard for us,” said Hanson. “The West is always going to be a weaker side, but hopefully, we can make some changes to that in the future.”
According to both Hanson and Ackerman, the challenge will be staying positive and mentally tough to push hard against the competition. Togetherness will be another key.
Team comradery is something the girls are focused on as they begin the season.
“I think we’re really close, and I think as the season goes on, we’re going to get even closer,” said Hanson. “I hope we can really make something happen as a team and play together.”
The Majettes are excited to get the season started and see their preparations during camp translate to game action.
“We’ve only had a couple weeks of practice, so I’m curious to see how it goes,” said Neuhalfen. “I’m also excited to see some of the successes come out, as well.”
Minot High opens their season at home against Bismarck Century tonight at 7 p.m., at Maysa Arena.