Floor Hockey Team Gets Star Treatment
The gym at Owatonna High School has rarely been as full as it was Monday night for the first-ever adaptive floor hockey game at the high school. The team usually plays it home games at the middle school. Based on the success of Monday night, it won't be the last time the team plays at OHS.
The Dog Pound was overflowing with students. Cheerleaders performed. The pep band fired up repeatedly during the high-scoring game. Parents, family, adaptive floor hockey alumni, and supportive community members attended. Fans cheered wildly during introductions, on each scoring chance, and on every Huskies' save. The gym erupted on each Huskies' goal.
Despite a 12-8 loss to Dakota United, Huskies coach John Scheil had plenty of reasons to be happy after the game. "I think this was a huge game for all of the athletes. To see this place packed, the pep band, the cheerleaders, and to keep it a pretty close game against a really good team was a really fun event...The student body that showed up was amazing"
Scheil said the different setting led to some nervous energy for the team, "As cool as an opportunity as it was, I think it was also an opportunity that made us very nervous as a team. It was kind of uneasy. They knew there was a lot of hype at the high school and a new environment. So even though it was a home game, it kind of was like a road game in the sense that we're playing on a space that we've never played before."
Scheil said the team got over the unusual feel to the evening and played well. "I think our team played really well tonight. Defensively, they hold them to only 12 goals, which, they were attacking the puck and playing where they needed to be. Offensively, we were moving puck well and getting some good goals throughout the game."
After giving up the first goal of the night, the Huskies led briefly midway through the first period 2-1 on goals by Melinda Abernathy and Chloe Talley. The Hawks scored the next four goals to take a 5-2 lead at first intermission. The Huskies scored a pair of goal about two minutes into the middle period to pull within 5-4, coming from Colton Drache and Talley, the second of her four goals. The teams went back and forth through the rest of the period. Dakota United led 9-6 after two.
The Hawks extended their lead through the third period, but Owatonna notched the final two markers on the night with Abernathy completing a hat trick. Mason Enger had two assists. Alexis Talley was the Huskies goaltender.
Owatonna has gone to state 13 times in adaptive floor hockey, winning the state championship in 2004. OHS has been the state runner-up three times and has taken the consolation title twice. The program started in 1996 under the guidance of OHS Athletic Hall of Fame member Jeanne Stursa.
The Huskies return to play Thursday in Winona at 4:30 pm. Scheil is hopeful the team can play a game or two at the high school in future seasons.