When asked about the somewhat surprising lack of production by his team in their 1-0 win over the Cap City Cougars in Friday's state semifinal game, Central Wisconsin Storm coach Pete Susens put it simply.
'We can't score goals.'
Granted, the Storm was missing their (at the time) leading goal scorer, Katelynn Schilling, who was lost to a broken thumb in late January. Central Wisconsin still had four other players that had scored at least ten goals, but didn't have a 'true goal scorer,' one that is able to score 'on demand.'
He wasn't alone, as his team and the three others in the 2017 State Tournament—Hayward, Cap City, and runner-up Bay Area—combined for a total of seven goals, the first and only time in the 16 year history of the girls state tourney that double digits were not reached.
Since the tourney began in 2002, the average number of goals scored in the two-day, three-game session was just less than 18. The high water mark of 26 was set back in the Wild West days of 2009, when game scores included tallies of 6-3, 2-1, and an unheard of 10-4 score in the championship game.
In that tournament, Fondy/Waupun's Katherine Nejedlo scored five goals just by herself, nearly matching this year's total.
And as recently as the stretch from 2012-2014, teams scored an average of 22 in the Friday and Saturday contests.
In 2012, 13 different players scored 22 goals.
In 2013, 18 different players scored 24 goals.
In 2014, 11 different players scored 21 goals.
This year, seven different players scored seven goals.
|Year||Goals Scored||Shots On Goal||Goal %||Save %|
As the table above shows—except for 2015—shooters had put the puck in the net at least one in every ten shots. This year, the number was half that efficient.
So what's going on?
I will just touch on a few thoughts and then send it out to you, our hockey gurus to weigh in with your thoughts. Comments are welcomed in the 'Comment' section and on Facebook.
The top goal scorers weren't in the tournament
Of the top 16 scorers during the regular season, none competed at state. In fact, Hayward's Amber Heidenreich and Jenna Curtis were the only two skaters at the tournament with more than 20 goals on their resume this year.
The goaltenders were stone walls that could not be penetrated
This year's netminders had a combined regular season save percentage of .935, stopping 1721 of 1841 shots on goal. In comparison, last year's goalies combined to stop 1723 of 1878 shots, or a save rate of .917. Based on the shots on goal this year, the difference between facing last year's goalie and this year's goalie would be two goals.
The defensive schemes/top defenders were better than in past years
This would be tough to judge, but players like Lauren Donnellan, Morgan Zirbel (tourney MVP), Mia Dunning, and Taylor Treu can and do make a difference. But there are good defenders every year—that's why teams make it to state.
The announcers and scorekeepers had an off-year
I won't go there—that can be Bergler's rant.
So there it is. Please feel free to weigh in.
Thanks for listening!