Packer offense powered by first line
The Packer girls hockey team has started the season 7-1 and have outscored opponents by almost 40 goals. They have over 300 shots on goal one-third of the way through the season, and plenty of that offense has come through its “white line,” consisting of seniors Kelly Krahn and Alli Springer and freshman Janey Sandoval.
The trio has combined for 51 of the team’s 81 points.
“Right now, they are the go-to line,” head coach Pat Johnson said. “All the other lines have either had someone hurt or someone sick. Hopefully those two lines can get back intact. The white line has been there, and they seem to play well together. It’s been a benefit, because we need a line like that.”
Krahn and Springer have started out as linemates at a very early age in summer hockey, and have proven ever since that they should be playing together.
“We clicked right away,” Springer said. “Being friends, I think we worked on the ice right away. We have always been able to know where the other is at the exact moment when we need to.”
They have been linemates for the Packers varsity team for the past four years, and were part of the state’s highest scoring line last year, along with Hayley Walsh, with 220 points in 25 games.
The two have seen several players come and go on their line, and when Sandoval joined them at the beginning of the season, she admitted being a bit intimidated by playing alongside the high-scoring veterans, but quickly found her place.
“It’s a whole different game,” Sandoval said. “They are always wide open for me. We don’t get in trouble as much, because we are doing things right. I just skate next to them, and it works out.”
Her coach, on the other hand, knew she had the potential to thrive on the first line.
“Janey can keep up with those two, and that is exactly what we needed,” Johnson said. “We wanted someone who wasn’t afraid to dish the puck, because those two can shoot. Janey can too.”
Dishing the puck is exactly what she has been doing, as she currently leads all skaters in North Dakota with 14 assists.
“I definitely think that she will be a standout player as she gets older,” Springer said. “She already is, clearly, but as the years go by, she will get better and better.”
The trio know how to have fun together. They call themselves the “Peanuts,” which stemmed from Krahn and Springer referring to Sandoval as “Little Peanut” at the start of the season.
However, they take the game very serious, and criticized their inability to find the back of the net -- an odd criticism for a team with 43 goals in eight games, but they have scored on just 12.2 percent of their shots on goal.
“We can’t hit the net, but overall I think we are doing fine. We just need to continue on.”
Despite the low percentage, Johnson is happy with their performance, and thinks that number is bound to improve.
“The way they have been playing means a lot to our program,” Johnson said. “They are carrying our offensive load right now, and they need to continue playing like that. Sometimes they get down if they are not shooting well, but I just keep telling them to shoot. Keep working and things will happen.”
The two seniors are both undecided on what they will do next year, but Sandoval knows what she wants to take from her experiences as their linemate.
“I’ll need work on getting a shot like Kelli’s (Krahn jokingly responded to that remark by saying “I don’t even look. I just chuck it at the net.”),” Sandoval said. “They are both good leaders and have taught a lot to me. I’ll just try to pass it on.”
One thing Krahn and Springer plan to do is haveas much fun as they can in their final season together.
“I have known her for I don’t even know how many years, and she has been an awesome player to be with on the ice,” Krahn said. “I probably wouldn’t want anyone else skating with me. We know how to have fun together.”
They will have their fun until the end of February, and in the meantime they, along with Sandoval, will continue to pace the potent West Fargo offense.
“Right now, they are the ones we look to to get us going and set the tone,” Johnson said. “Without them, we would be struggling a bit, but they are setting a good tone for us. They are all good kids, and they are really good for team morale.”
The Packers will play two home games this weekend, hosting Minot on Friday at 7:30 p.m., then facing off against Williston on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. They then host Jamestown on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.