It was 5:45. Jenna Mekkelsen pulled up to the doors. She hopped out of her car, the cold Saturday night air hitting her. She walked through the doors of the Central Vermont Civic Center, hockey stick in one hand and bag in the other. Shouts of hockey players already on the ice filled the air– Stowe and Missisquoi finishing their game. Jenna hadn’t arrived at the Civic Center just to watch. Jenna is a junior on U-32’s girls hockey team. This one game gives a window into her hockey life at U-32.
It was the Dr. Butsch Ice Hockey Tournament, an annual hockey tournament at the Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center just down the hill from U-32. The girls were facing off against Burr and Burton in the final game of the weekend, and the stakes were high.
“I expect our team to work hard and skate to every single puck with intensity,” Jenna said. “Last game we worked together and that was a big part of how we won the game. I think if we work as a team, play smart and give it all we’ve got every shift out there we will have a great game!”
“Winning the game is definitely our main goal,” Jenna said, “but it’d be awesome if during today’s game we break the puck out quickly and efficiently. Also, during our last practice we worked on penalty kills and power plays. So if we get the chance to have a power play, it would be huge for us.”
Saturday came around, and the game was just hours away. Jenna had expectations for the team for that evening, but she also had some goals for herself.
“Some goals I have for myself tonight is to take snapshots from the blue line when the opportunity is there,” Jenna said. “Also, to keep my head up and look for the open pass, and If the pass is not there have the confidence to skate the puck up the ice.”
It was Saturday night: gametime. The air was chilly inside the rink, jackets a must for watching. Jenna and her teammates watched from behind the glass as Stowe and Missisquoi finished their game, waiting for the big matchup to start. At 6:15, it was go time.
Jenna recorded quality minutes out on the ice on Saturday night, helping her U-32 Raiders battle it out against the Bulldogs. Mekkelsen was involved in many key defensive plays, whether it was flicking the puck just out of reach of an opposing player, or stopping a dangerous puck heading towards the goal area.
U-32 took the lead in the first period, but things were tied up by the Bulldogs not long after. The Raiders would have none of it. Thirty seconds later they regained the lead.
A minute and twenty two seconds into the second period the Raiders had extended their lead to 3-1. Though Burr and Burton came back to tie it up at 3-3, U-32 gave it their all and fought hard to not face defeat. The game ended in a tie: 3-3.
“I thought that we all worked really hard until the end of the game, and we didn’t give up,” Jenna said. “One of my team goals was to break the puck out, and we struggled with that during the game- they were a strong team and our points were being covered, and they also were not coming down low enough.”
“I thought that I played well,” Jenna said. “I think that with all of the penalty kills that we had to face, I played strong in the defensive end. Our team stayed positive throughout the game- we lead the whole game until they tied it up in the last few minutes.”
Though the game was not part of the regular season, Jenna was impressed by her team’s work and is confident in them.
“Our team has started off on a very good start with one tie and one win,” she said. “I am very impressed with how our team has worked together in the last two games. I think our team needs to work on breaking the puck out…. These are things that will come with practice and time; it was only our second game. We still have a long season ahead!”