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Laker girls’ expectations up with new coaches

The Detroit Lakes girls hockey program begins 2018-19 under new leadership in Scott Piepkorn, who was named the new varsity head girls hockey coach in September by activities director Rob Nielsen to replace Gretchen Norby, who resigned after last...

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Madyson Melgard battles along the boards during a game last year with East Grand Forks. Melgard and Leah Honer are two of the Perham players on the Detroit Lakes girls hockey team this season. Robert Williams/Forum News Service

The Detroit Lakes girls hockey program begins 2018-19 under new leadership in Scott Piepkorn, who was named the new varsity head girls hockey coach in September by activities director Rob Nielsen to replace Gretchen Norby, who resigned after last season.

Piepkorn becomes the third head coach of the girls program all-time.

“I’ve always wanted to do it and realistically, there aren’t many coaches around any more,” he said. “Rob came and asked and I went to Mike Schiltz and Bruce Raboin and talked to them. They were all on board with a change.”

Piepkorn and assistant coaches Raboin and Schiltz are implementing new systems that the players are becoming accustomed to, along with a balanced set of six coaches.

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Madyson Melgard

“We have three old school guys now trying to run the program and young girls Ali Dohmeir, who was here last year, Andrea Klug and Ally Nielsen, so we’ve got those three to overset us old guys.”

Piepkorn’s message to his staff has been about providing a cohesive experience.

“Like I told the parents, it’s six coaches doing everything together,” he said. “I have the head coach title, but we do everything together.”

The Lakers begin the season with seven seniors, five juniors and a group of six freshman and sophomores. From upperclassmen on down, the DL skaters have plenty of new information to digest and translate to the ice. On top of that, their new coach is not one to set limitations on what can be accomplished in a season.

“They’re working hard and there is a lot to learn,” said Piepkorn. “We’re going to play the best we can in order to win and beat the big three...and try to get to state. Everybody smiles at that, but that’s our goal.”

The top attacking lines are senior Abagail King with junior Josey Allen and freshman Emma Coley, along with senior Karrigan Hallisey centering junior Madyson Melgard and senior Lily Burnside on the right side.

Burnside opened the season with a two-goal effort in a 5-2 loss to Sophie Rausch (hat trick) and the Fergus Falls Otters.

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According to Piepkorn, his first two lines are interchangeable; it’s finding a consistent next line down the roster that is imperative for the Lakers. That showed against the Otters.

“I was trying to match up the lines and they had a couple good players where if I got my third line out there I was in trouble,” Piepkorn said.

Piepkorn is counting on time and experience to get the third set up to speed.

“I’m working with five girls to find that third line,” he said. “It’ll work out in the end; that third line will show up.”

Sophomore Leah Honer got the start in net to begin the year with experienced senior Kyndra McDougall likely to see the majority of time in goal as the season gets underway.

Despite the road loss on the road to start the year, the coaching staff liked the effort from the players.

“I think they worked harder than they have in the past five, 10 years from start to finish,” Piepkorn said. “We had big, glaring breakdowns a man short and on coverages and backchecking. That’ll be fixed.”

The top two defensive pairings are senior Payton Carlblom and sophomore McKenna Burhans along with junior Annie Campbell and senior Sydney Brininger.

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“We’re hoping another two can step right in because we just need a lot of players to play the big teams,” said Piepkorn. “The last few years they’ve just been running out of gas after the second period.”

The Lakers ended the season on a sour note last year when Park Rapids erased a 3-0 Laker lead after the first period and a 4-3 third period advantage to knock out DL 5-4 in the opening round of the Section 8A playoffs after Detroit Lakes swept the regular season series from the Panthers.

DL (8-18) finished fourth in the 8A standings behind section champions and Class A state runners-up Warroad (24-2-2), Thief River Falls (17-7-2) and East Grand Forks (18-9-1). Both the Panthers (4-22) and Crookston (5-21) struggled to find wins.

DL’s home-opener is Thursday, Nov. 15 against East Grand Forks. The Green Wave have started the season with two road, shutout victories at Bemidji 2-0 and Crookston 9-0. EGF held both teams to single digits in shots on goal. Freshman Kendra Emery leads the team with five points.

Burnside, King, Hallisey and eighth-grader Ella Hess all got on the scoresheet for DL at Fergus Falls.

Carlblom, Hallisey and King were named this year’s team captains.

More on the head coach:

Piepkorn is a Moorhead high school and a Moorhead State University graduate with a coaching history in Moorhead, Apple Valley and Detroit Lakes in both hockey and soccer.

His career began as an assistant of the Bantam and PeeWee programs in Moorhead in 1979. He was a junior varsity and varsity assistant for the Spuds from 1982-84 under head coach Terry Shercliffe.

After moving to Apple Valley, he was the Midget B head hockey coach 1985-86 while serving with the high school program, where in 1986 he became the JV and varsity assistant under Mark Decenzo until 1990.

While in Apple Valley, he started the Junior Gold hockey program in 1989 and was an assistant on the soccer team from 1988-90 under Chuck Scanlon. The Eagles won back-to-back state titles 1988-89.

He retired from coaching in 1990 to concentrate on his business and returned to the coaching realm in 2007 at Detroit Lakes. He was a volunteer assistant for the Laker boys JV under head coach Dan Maloney 2007-09 and for head coach Chris Denardo from 2009-12.

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