Junior Fighting Yoopers AAA 12-under girls hockey team wins Minnesota tournament

Members of the Junior Fighting Yoopers girls Under-12 AAA travel hockey team are, in front, Anna Byczek of Marquette. Middle row from left, Hailey Krznarich of Ironwood, Jorja Mikkola of Negaunee, Donna Lotzer of Ironwood, Maria Gironella of Minocqua, Wis., Abby Pieper of Marquette, Kasia Olszewski of Ontonagon, Kaitlyn Williams of Ishpeming. Top row from left, assistant coach Jeff Pieper of Marquette, Aziza Burgoon of Iron Mountain, Emily Wroblewski of Lake Linden, Dru Sabatke of Merrill, Wis., Chloe Allen of Escanaba, Lyndsey Lake of Marquette, assistant coach Mark Wroblewski of Lake Linden, Kassidee Linssen of Lakewood, Wis., Emma Perala of Calumet, and head coach Nate Williams of Ishpeming. (Submitted photo)

ISHPEMING — The Upper Peninsula and northeastern Wisconsin-based Junior Fighting Yoopers girls hockey team won a title at the Independent Classic Tournament in Minneapolis last weekend.

Member of this 12-and-under AAA girls hockey team played in their local association during the fall and winter, and now that those seasons have concluded, joined this “all-star” team to compete against other AAA girls teams, according to head coach Nate Williams of Ishpeming.

“This is a special group of girls,” Williams said. “With limited practice time leading into the tournament, these girls worked hard in a short amount of time and achieved what some thought was impossible.”

The Fighting Yoopers won 4-3 in overtime in the championship game to clinch the title in Minnesota over the Skate to Excellence Red team of Lino Lakes, Minnesota.

Each finalist went undefeated in their division heading into this last game.

Abby Pieper of Marquette scored twice, netting the game’s first goal early in the opening period and a tying goal that made it 3-3 midway through the third.

Emily Wroblewski of Lake Linden had a goal to tie the score 2-2 in the second, while Kaitlyn Williams of Ishpeming recorded a three-assist playmaker.

Defenseman Dru Sabatke of Merrill, Wisconsin, scored the game-winner during the four-on-four overtime off a pass from Williams.

Goaltender Anna Byczek of Marquette made 31 saves for the win.

Earlier in the tourney, the Yoopers beat Crown Hockey 2-1, Hometown Hockey 4-2, Ice Cougars 9-3 and Milwaukee Phoenix 3-1. All but the Milwaukee team were based out of Minnesota.

This was the Junior Yoopers second tournament in as many weekends. A week earlier, they lost in the semifinals 8-7 in overtime.

The team expects to participate in at least one other tournament in late July.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.