Players aplenty on girls hockey team
Randall Sperry has a problem. But, it’s a good problem.
The Chugiak-Eagle River girls hockey coach has 28 players on his roster. About half are returners and half new to the sport.
In the interest of building the program, Sperry said he’s not making any cuts.
“We’re trying to balance being a competitive varsity program this year with building the team for next year,” he said.
While the newcomers slightly outnumber the veterans, Sperry said he has 12 returning players.
“We’ve got a pretty solid core that played last year,” he said.
Seniors Holly Linder and Autumn Sperry will be counted on to lead the offense, coach Sperry said. Linder and Autumn Sperry were two of the team’s top four scorers last year, he said.
“They’ll have a lot of responsibility to get the offense going,” coach Sperry said.
Senior Morgan Elledge will provide CER with solid defense, coach Sperry said. Elledge was an All-Cook Inlet Conference blueliner last season.
Arika Mercer will backstop Chugiak-Eagle River. The sophomore split time in net last season with 2012 Chugiak graduate Nicole Mercer.
Coach Sperry said Mercer’s goaltending experience bodes well for his team.
“She got a lot of time last year,” he said. “She exceeded all expectations.”
After winning just four games in the 2010-11 campaign, CER went 9-10-1 overall last year. Coach Sperry is confident his squad can achieve similar success this year.
“We expect that we should be able to be competitive,” he said.
But, he said, first-year players will need to fill vital roles on the team for that to happen.
“It will be interesting to see how they step up to the challenge,” coach Sperry said.
Chugiak-Eagle River opened its season with a 10-3 loss to Dimond-West on Oct. 30 at the McDonald Center. Linder scored twice for CER.
CER fell 9-0 to Service-East on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Ben Boeke, then dropped a 6-2 decsion to Mat-Su on Nov. 6. Linder and Sperry each scored for Chugiak-Eagle River.
Although CER has several new faces, the team is reminiscent of last season, coach Sperry said.
“We had really good energy last year. Right now, we’re starting out the same way,” he said.
The girls have committed to off-ice training, coach Sperry said.
“I’m pleased with the attitude and the effort right now,” he said.
CER is also focusing on its academics. The team won the conference academic award last year with a collective 3.41 grand point average.
“That’s something we’ll try to emphasize again this year,” coach Sperry said.