The 14U Lady Coyotes got the 2017-18 season off to a strong start, finishing 3-1 in the AZYHL seeding tournament. In the opener, new and old faces led the way to a 7-2 win over the AHU Gray Knights. Veterans Kyra Mittendorf and Delaney McGrath teamed up for the first goal of the season. That combination would score again later, and Delaney added a third assist on Buffalo transfer Niamh (pronounced Neeve) Schroeder’s first Lady Coyote goal. Niamh proved she’s here to put the puck in the net when she tallied another goal before the second period was over. She wasn’t the only transplant to make an impact, however. Iowa native Emerie Palmer got her first point of the season with an assist in the third period, Cleveland recruit MacKenzie Toporowych showed off defensive skills that prove Ohioans know more about sports than just football and basketball, and Minnesotan Piper Priem kept the pressure on with the back check all night. Three members of the original 14U Lady Coyotes recruiting class also found their names on the score sheet. Lauren Squires and Grace Mastorakos each showed off the new skills they learned playing bantam boys hockey this summer by lighting the lamp, with blue liner Kylie Carano assisting on Mastorakos’ goal. Isabella Puleo reminded everyone why she was MVP in 2015-16, hustling all night and putting an exclamation point on the game with the final goal of the night. After a year absence, Edith Townsend got the start between the pipes. She and newcomer Elizabeth Ramsey combined to keep the game out of reach all night.
In game 2 Willow “Tucson” Troy led the way against her hometown team and former team mates, notching a goal and an assist in a 4-0 win over the WYHA Wildcats. The assist came on former Gilbert All-Star Victoria Burget’s first Lady Coyote goal, validating the three year recruiting effort for Victoria’s services. Melanie VanMeer made her triumphant return to the 14U team with an assist on Niamh Schroeder’s third goal of the season. Netminder Elizabeth Ramsey showed off her Alaska-bred skills, making 16 saves in the first shutout of the season.
Game 3 showed that as in previous years, the Lady Coyotes won’t be pushed around. In a hard fought game, the Lady Coyotes found their way to a 5-1 win over the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Kyra Mittendorf book-ended the scoring with an early power play goal and a late top shelf snipe. After being the assist master in game 1, Delaney McGrath turned the tables and got her first goal of the season. Niamh Schroeder continued her goal streak with a fourth goal in three games, and Isabella “Don’t Call Me Gina” Puleo also added to the scoring.
In a fast paced and highly entertaining game, the three-game win streak came to an end in a 4-2 loss to the Scottsdale CAHA Coyotes. It wasn’t just a speed game, though. Newcomer Sophia Ramon and 4th year defenseman Audrey Ju carried over the physical play from the previous night. Sophia had several close calls, then finally drew the referee’s ire and went to the sin bin for the first time as a Lady Coyote. Audrey showed everyone that she’s ready to fill the void left by the graduation of her older sister to the 19U team with some physical play along the boards. The Lady Coyotes fell behind 2-0, then responded sixteen seconds later when Naimh Schroeder directed a pass out of the corner from Kyra Mittendorf into the net for her fifth goal in four games. After CAHA scored to regain the two goal margin, the girls again responded right back when Tucson Troy scored on a breakaway a minute later. With the girls down 3-2 with 47 seconds left and the goalie ready to come to the bench, CAHA was able to ice the game. Despite the loss it was the most entertaining game of the weekend, and the one that will reap the most rewards later in the season.