Plenty of Kammunition
Luverne’s Kamryn Van Batavia reaches a rare milestone in her record-setting career
Sunday, January 9, 2022
Luverne junior Kamryn Van Batavia is in her fifth year of an historic varsity career that began in seventh grade. In the Cardinals’ 9-1 home win over Breckenridge/Wahpeton on Jan. 7, Kamryn scored her 200th career goal, then added three more to move past U.S. Olympian Dani Camaranesi (201) and into fifth place all-time in Minnesota girls history with 203 goals.
“It was a huge accomplishment for me,” she said of reaching 200 goals. “And it was fun just to see the coaches and fans there for me.”
OK sure, Luverne doesn’t play the toughest schedule down in the southwest corner of the state, but can we talk about Kamryn Van Batavia averaging over five points per game? The Minnesota State-Mankato commit has 58 goals and 93 points in 17 games and is a cinch to finish the season with well over 100 points.
Along with 133 assists, she now has 336 total points since her varsity career began in seventh grade, putting her fifth all-time in points scored in Minnesota girls hockey history. With this season and next still to play, Van Batavia has a very realistic shot at becoming the state’s all-time leading scorer in her senior year, a distinction currently held by University of Minnesota assistant coach Natalie Darwitz, who sits atop the mountain with 316 goals, 152 assists and 468 points.
“Our coach says they’re the big sister and we’re the little sister, and we want to be the big sister and make them the little sister." -- Kamryn Van Batavia, on Luverne's rivalry with New Ulm
Holiday triumph in the Cities
Kam and the Cards came to the Twin Cities and cruised to the title at the Herb Brooks Holiday Classic Silver Division, most notably handling upstart Moose Lake Area, 6-3 in the tournament semifinals. “Before the season we all set three goals for ourselves and winning that tournament was one of them,” said Van Batavia.
KVB managed four goals and a helper for a five-point game against Moose Lake, just a tad below her 5.47 per game average. Her 53 goals this year exceeds several teams’ total goals scored on the season.
Her wingmates are Reghan Bork (33-34–67) and Payton Behr (17-28–45) and the Cardinals have eight players averaging over one point per game. Luverne is 15-1-0 this year, with their lone loss coming early in the season against New Ulm.
Kamryn and her teammates are eyeing the rematch set for Jan. 20 at New Ulm. “Our coach says they’re the big sister and we’re the little sister, and we want to be the big sister and make them the little sister,” said Van Batavia.
Van Batavia already has 53 goals on the season. Photo courtesy of Dave Van Batavia
In addition, the two teams may well be on a collision course to meet in the Section 3A final for the right to go to state. “I get excited just thinking about playing New Ulm,” she says.
Vying for a third chance in St. Paul
The last two years, Luverne has reached the state tournament, though those appearances did not go well. In 2020 they were outclassed by a dominant Breck team, and last year, they fell 8-0 to undefeated eventual champions Proctor/Hermantown. But Kamryn thinks they’ll benefit from those experiences if they make it back for a third straight year. “That two year experience helps get us ready,” she said. “Making it to state is always our number one goal.”
Van Batavia and her teammates want to show the state they’ll be legitimate contenders this time around. “I think our biggest improvement has been some people stepping up into leadership roles,” Kamryn said.
Van Batavia has 336 points in a prep career that began in seventh grade. Photo courtesy of Dave Van Batavia
Though they lost a strong core of defenders last year to graduation, Kamryn likes the development of the team’s newer players, including her cousin, seventh grade defender Macy Edstrom. “They’re all doing a real good job,” Van Batavia said. “We’re focusing on D-zone and then the rest will take care of itself.”
A future Maverick
The state’s leading goal scorer decided that MSU-Mankato was the right place for her, after also considering getting away and going to the University of Maine. “Over the summer, I attended a few college camps. (Mankato) invited me for an unofficial visit and they made me an offer,” Kamryn recalls.
Her decision to commit to play at Mankato was aided by her older sister Maddie, a college student at the University of Nebraska, who advised her to go with what felt right for her. When Kamryn stepped on the ice at Mankato, she knew she had found the right place.
“Being just two hours away and my family can see me play, going to Mankato felt right for me,” she explains. With Van Batavia’s college choice settled, she can remain fully dedicated to her high school team. “Right now,” said Kamryn, “I’m focused on Luverne hockey.”
BSM zeroes in, and other observations
It’s been an uneven but overall encouraging first half for Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The Red Knights sit at 8-5-1 and have played as tough a schedule as any team in the state. The goals were hard to come by against some of the state’s elite, including Andover, Edina, Warroad and Wayzata, but Benilde is now benefiting from their intense early schedule.
“The puck is starting to go in the net,” head coach Kevin Gray said, a day after his team dominated Gentry Academy 6-0. “Our power play is starting to click, we scored 5-on-5, and we got a short-handed goal.”
The Gentry win came a week after an equally stellar holiday performance when they won the Eden Prairie Mid-Winter Meltdown without surrendering a single goal. BSM blanked Chaska/Chanhassen 3-0, Eden Prairie 4-0 and North Wright County 3-0 in the title game.
BSM has a solid tandem rotating between the pipes. Sophomore goalie Demetra Walsma had two of the Meltdown shutouts, and the defense in front of her allowed just five Chaska/Chanhassen shots. Senior goalie Allie Van Stelten stopped 16 of 16 shots in the win over Gentry.
Mary Zavoral and Benilde-St. Margaret's are starting to find the back of the net. Photo by TeMo Photography
Even more impressive and significant than the recent shutout surge is that the Red Knights gave up just 34 shots on goal in the entire Meltdown tourney, evidence that senior defender Emma Peschel and Co. have what it takes on the backline to be among the very best teams in the state.
“One of the things we focus on is a commitment to team defense. The girls have bought into that,” said Gray. “And playing team defense helps create offense, too.”
In the team’s five losses and a tie, the Red Knights were often dominant, only to suffer from short lapses and a few bad bounces against some of the state’s best. Benilde outshot #1 Andover 31-22 in a season-opening 3-2 loss; they outshot 1A powerhouse Warroad 28-16 in a 1-1 tie. In a 2-1 loss to Wayzata, they outshot the Trojans 27-13. Against Blake, a surprising 4-1 loss, Benilde compiled a 39-18 shot advantage.
And while things didn’t come easy early on for the Red Knights, coach Gray likes how his team responded. “They stayed in the process and kept trust in it,” he said. “The belief was always that we’re on the right track.”
In a recent 5-4 overtime loss to Holy Family on Jan. 4, in which Benilde led in shots by a whopping 41-20, coach Gray was unfazed. “Overall, we hardly could have played better. I mean, we got four pucks past a U18 National Team goaltender (Sedona Blair).”
Heading into the final weeks of the regular season, Benilde appears to be in good position for the rugged Section 6AA playoffs. “You’ve got the big components down,”Gray said. “It’s about fine-tuning D-zones and special teams.”
All told, it’s five shutouts in the Red Knights’ last six games. “Our goal every game is ‘we’re not gonna give up a goal’,” says Gray. If University of St. Thomas commit Mary Zavoral and the Red Knights’ offense keeps finding the back of the net with regularity, Benilde’s best days may still be ahead of them.
I’ve seen Fire and I’ve seen... Maddie Kaiser
Speaking of Holy Family, the Green and White were on their heels against the Red Knights for a period and a half last week, trailing 2-0 and looking on the verge of a decisive loss. Then, out of nowhere, the Fire was lit and Holy Family scored three times in 45 seconds to take a 3-2 lead.
BSM rallied forcefully in the third period to take a 4-3 lead before Minnesota Gopher commit Maddie Kaiser tied the score and forced overtime. In the extra period, Taylor Koeppl won it for Holy Fam at the five minute mark.
Even a novice hockey observer could have walked into the St. Louis Park Rec Center that day and been able to see that Kaiser was the fastest, most skilled player on the ice. She repeatedly blows past the defense and creates scoring chances for her teammates and herself. Kaiser has 18 goals in 16 games and it is obvious the Golden Gophers are getting a first-rate talent.
Huskies remain Top Dogs
Just past the halfway point of the regular season, top-ranked Andover stands as the lone unbeaten team in the state at 14-0-0. They don’t score as much as turbo charged Minnetonka, and they can’t quite match Edina’s 0.64 team GAA, but the Huskies continue to rack up the Ws.
They won the Walser Edina Classic over the holidays, edging Minnetonka 4-3 in the title game, and most recently traveled north to Grand Rapids and stormed the Lightning 7-0, surrendering just 10 shots on net.
The Huskies haven’t shied away from playing a difficult schedule, either. And the remaining nine games on their regular season schedule include dates with exclusively top 20 teams.
Edina may get their chance to knock off the last unbeaten on Jan. 22 at Hockey Day Minnesota in Mankato when the Hornets and Huskies face off on outdoor ice at Blakeslee Stadium.
The hottest team in 1A might just be up-and-comer Two Rivers/St. Paul. The Riveters have won five in a row, most recently doubling up on Minnehaha United 8-4 in another welcome outdoor game at the North Dale Rec Center in St. Paul, an event that Riveters co-head coach Tim Blase helped coordinate this year. “He spent hours and hours on it,” said his coaching partner Allie Duellman.
Duellman, who won a state title with Roseville in 2010 and played collegiately at Bemidji State, credits the leadership of her seniors for the Riveters’ emergence. “Our senior class, two goalies and three forwards, are a huge reason for our success,” said Duellman.
One of the senior goaltenders, Ella Graham, gave her team it’s biggest win of the season with a sparkling performance on the road against South St. Paul. Graham stopped all 35 shots that came her way as the Riveters upset the #7 (1A) ranked Packers 1-0 on Jan. 7. “She played awesome, but I would say it was a team effort,” Duellman said. “In the last three minutes we got a penalty so they pulled their goalie and had a 6-on-4 advantage and (Ella) stood on her head.”
The wins improved Two Rivers’ record to 9-7-0 and elevated them to #14 in Class 1A. The Riveters recent surge makes them a definite factor among the contenders in Section 4A.
United We Score
Despite falling to Two Rivers, Minnehaha United is enjoying a resurgent season of their own, with a 10-6 record at the dawn of 2022. Leading said resurgence is the dynamic duo of Lucie Bond and Ava Wasserman. The senior forwards are carrying the offensive load for United. Bond leads the team with 28 goals and 55 points, and Wasserman is next with 24 goals and 42 points. The pair account for 52 of the team’s 84 goals on the season.
See a bit more of Celia Midtbo
Minneapolis sniper Celia Midtbo. Photo by Mike Lieb
In a tough season for Minneapolis, junior sniper Celia Midtbo has stood out and kept her team in most games. Midtbo has 28 goals and has registered at least a point in every game but three. In their recent 10-4 win over Hutchinson on the outdoor rink at the North Dale Rec Center in St. Paul, Midtbo had four goals and two assists as the 612 improved to 5-10-1 on the season.
CPCR is resuscitated
Champlin Park/Coon Rapids found themselves in need of a jolt following four consecutive losses in December in which they were outscored collectively 27-5 by a quartet of 2A heavyweights.
The losses dropped the Rebels' season record to 4-7-0. And though they lost 8-2 on Dec. 21 to highly touted Minnetonka, head coach Todd Gutterman felt his team gained a lot from it. “In the first period we outshot them 15-11 and were down 1-0,” recalls Gutterman. “It ended up 8-2, but we ended up with 37 shots. I really do believe that was a turning point for us.”
Then over the holidays the Rebels came to life, winning the Kaposia Classic with a 3-0 win over Woodbury. They beat Roseville in a shootout to reach the title game and opened the tournament with possibly their most impressive win of the season by beating Elk River/Zimmerman 5-0. “It was an even game, closer than 5-0,” said Gutterman. “The girls played hard. We were missing some key pieces but some girls stepped up.”
The Rebels rotate a freshman and a senior in goal, with freshman Madelyn Wostrel and senior Sam Boshea taking turns between the pipes. Gutterman is equally comfortable with either goalie and thinks it creates a healthy competition between them.
Offensively, CP/CR has been led by the top line of Molly Terebayza, Abby Ness and Brooklyn Johnson, but coach Gutterman is encouraged by better offensive balance. “We’re starting to get more contributions from some other players,” he said.
The Rebels now stand 8-8-1 on the season and have climbed to #26 in the Janjet 2A rankings. “We’re process driven,” said Gutterman. “We want to make sure we’re playing our best in February.”
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