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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/18/2013 11:12:50 AM

By Brian Jerzak
John’s Journal Correspondent

One of the state’s top scorers in girls hockey this season is Red Wing junior Nicole Schammel. Playing on one of the top teams in Class 1A, Schammel and her teammates have made a habit of advancing to the state tournament and are hoping to turn another great regular season into a state championship.

Although she is one of the elite hockey players in the state, there is much more to Schammel than hockey.

The Wingers are one of the highest-scoring teams in the state and the highest-scoring team in school history.

“We have a lot of top-end talent with two Division I commitments (including Ms. Hockey finalist Paige Haley),” said head coach Scott Haley, who is Paige’s father. “We have three kids who play in the Upper Midwest Elite League. We’ve got really good hockey players from eighth grade on up.”

Red Wing won its first Missota Conference championship in girls hockey this season and the Wingers have been to four of the last five state tournaments, including this season.

They claimed the Section 1A with a 9-1 win over New Prague on Thursday night. They are the No. 2 seed at the state tournament and will face Alexandria in the tourney’s opening game Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center.

“Our team strengths are our team speed and the ability to move the puck,” said Scott Haley. “When we move the puck and play unselfishly we are a really fun team to watch. If we stick to that and play responsibly in our own zone we can have a successful end of the season.”

One of the team’s best puck movers is Schammel.

“She is one of the most dynamic goal scorers in the state,” said the seventh-year head coach. “She has a real drive and hunger to score goals. She has a unique skill set. She is a very accurate shooter, is very puck savvy and is very good with her body positioning.”
You could say hockey is in her blood.

“Her hockey IQ is extremely high,” explained Haley, who has been coaching Nicole in some way since she was 8 years old. “She had two brothers coming in front of her. As a kid she watched a lot of hockey with her siblings. She enjoyed watching hockey.”

Just because her hockey knowledge is high and she has been competing with the elite players in her age group for years, that doesn’t mean she takes anything for granted.

“If there is open ice before practice she is always one of the first kids out there,” said Haley. “She is always working on the fine skill stuff. She works hard in the offseason. She has a lot of natural skill and ability, but I don’t think people realize how hard she works and how much time she has put in to do the things she does.”

Although she is just a junior, Schammel has already committed to Division I Minnesota State Mankato. Haley thinks the Mavericks are getting a player with skills you can’t teach.

“Her ability to see the ice and her ability to get to the right spots at the right time and know the angles is just great. I think it is easier to teach kids how to stick-handle and shoot than it is to teach kids to do what she can do.”

Although hockey is obviously Schammel’s number one sport, like many of the athletes in Red Wing she is a multi-sport athlete. She plays on the tennis team and the golf team.

“It helps a little bit with burnout,” said Haley. “Tennis helps her with her lateral movement. Tennis and golf are big hand-eye coordination sports. She is cross training without knowing she is cross training. She is an elite level hockey player in the country – certainly in the state of Minnesota. Sometimes it is good for these kids to go to a second or a third sport where they’re good, but it is other kids’ primary sport. It is OK to have that experience.

"In the state golf tournament last year she had a really good score in the section tournament so she was paired up with three girls who all they do is play golf and here she is this hockey girl playing with Division I golf girls. That is good experience.”

Red Wing has been able to build a culture of multisport athletes.

“That is one of the great things about Red Wing,” continued Haley. “These kids have the opportunity to participate and get that full high school experience. A kid like Nicole who is athletic, it is pretty cool that she can experience those things. I don’t know how easy that is to do at a bigger school.”

Although they are accustomed to playing deep into the season, Red Wing has not been able to win that elusive state championship. This year they are a young team with only two seniors, but the talent is there to take that next step.

No doubt Schammel has the talent to be a key component in getting Red Wing to that next plateau. Although hockey is the obvious program to focus on, because of her commitment to Red Wing athletics overall, before she is done, the junior might help more than one Winger program reach that next plateau.

--Photo from the Red Wing Republican-Eagle.



 


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