K-Stars 19u are off to a hot start for the 2019-20 season with a record of 8-0-1 along with earning the Championship Title at the Rush Buffalo Inferno the first weekend in November. Head Coach Mark Tonello recaps the weekend stating, “This tournament victory was truly a team effort. Every player contributed. All 3 forward lines produced offensively with each player scoring at least one goal. Our defense was outstanding limiting quality scoring chances against, and giving up virtually no second chances. Our goal tending was also superb. Joey Johnston and Bree Schroer were rock solid in net.”
In 5 tournament games the K-Stars outscored their opponents 24-6 resulting in 4 wins and a tie. Ellie Visser led the team in goals earning a hat trick in game 1 and putting one in the net the next 4 games for a total of 7 goals. Josie Riebow and Kaitlyn Williams each contributed 3 over the weekend, Reese Gingrich and Paris Wegleitner had a pair, Abby Popa and Jordan Usiondek also scored, and Sarah Lamb put one in the net along with an impressive 5 assists. The highlight of the weekend wasn’t about goals, assists, wins or banners, however. Forward Lindsey Tonello battled through the entire 2018-2019 season in pain and underwent back surgery this past August. She wasn’t expected back on the ice until early 2020, but was cleared to return to all activities days before the first puck drop of the tournament. Her debut back to the game was impressive, but not surprising. Tonello scored 4 goals, 2 assists, and the coaching staff and players are glad to have her healthy and back on the ice!
Geographically, the team is all over the map. There are 7 players new to the K-Stars program this season, all from the Upper Peninsula. Defenseman Aziza Burgoon lives in Iron Mountain, which is over 600 miles from K-Stars forward Reese Gingrich residing in Dayton, Ohio. Only 9 of the 18 players on the team actually practice together. Assistant Coach Kraig Visser is impressed with the camaraderie and talent of the squad, “I’ve been coaching girls hockey for over 10 years and I’ve never coached a team where the skill gap is so minimal. These girls are really fun to watch. We have a lot of weapons out there on both offense and defense, and they work hard every shift. Most importantly for me is the fact that we have a team of great girls and parents. I think we have something pretty special.”
Next up for the team is the CCM World Invite Detroit November 8-10, bringing over 2000 female hockey players to Michigan to compete. There are 12 teams in the 19u Tier 2 division with representation from Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Florida, California, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Last November the K-Stars won the CCM Title for the 16u Division, and are hopeful to make another great run. They will face the Midland Hornets for their first home game of the season at the Kaliseum. The game is scheduled for Saturday, November 23rd at 12:45pm.