By Bob San
Sun Press Newspapers
The Maple Grove CI-Adapted Floor Hockey team beat South Suburban 9-0 March 9 to qualify for the state tournament March 17 and 18.
Maple Grove finished the regular season with a 7-4-1 record. The Crimson are led by senior co-captains Cole Brambilla and Jason Robins. Brambilla is a four-year starter and has developed into one of the top defensive players in the league. He also tallied 24 points this season. Robins has played for five seasons, the past three in net. He has become one of the top net-minders in the state.
Sophomore Mohammed Konneh leads the team in scoring this regular season with 23 goals and 17 assists. Junior Paige Faber was second in scoring with 13 goals and 18 assists. Faber is seven goals shy of joining the Crimson’s 100-goal club. Joe O’Hotto returned for his second season and was also tough on defense.
Newcomer Jose Guiterrez-Peralta also made huge improvements and significant contributions this season. He started off playing a couple shifts a game and moved into the starting line-up the past month. Jose scored seven goals and 11 assists this season. Jillian Sitarz and Emily Schlegel round-out the rest of the Crimson’s roster this season.
Despite being small in numbers, the Crimson finished third in the conference. The CI-division plays 5-minute shifts and three 15-minute periods. Most teams go 5-in, 5-out at the end of each shift, but the Crimson do not have this luxury.
“Our players often play the entire 45-minutes of the game,” Crimson coach Kelli Waalk said. “Our team is used to playing with a short roster so our kids have developed great endurance. Our conditioning is really good and our players are used to playing longer with less rest. This really helps when we get to play-offs and state.”
After losing a double-overtime play-off game a year ago, the Crimson were hoping to make it back to state. They did it with the win over South Suburban.
The Crimson’s only losses were to top-ranked opponents. The Crimson lost to defending state champions North Suburban. The Cougars put-up a record 111 shots on net. Robins was amazing in net that day, stopping 109 of those shots.
Maple Grove opens state tournament play against No. 2 Owatonna at 6:30 p.m. at Bloomington Jefferson High School. The semifinals and final are March 18 at Bloomington Jefferson.