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Cougars girls open season this week

The Aberdeen Cougars girls team wins the opening draw against Huron during a game last season at the Odde Ice Center. The Cougars open their season at Huron on Friday night. Photo by John Davis taken 2/4/2021

The Aberdeen Cougars girls’ hockey team has been the gold standard of its sport for the past decade and now the architect of the program has returned to the squad.

Rob Weinmeister is taking over for Shelby Edwards who stepped down after last season. The Cougars have won six of the past seven state championships with three titles for each coach.

Weinmeister, who last coached in 2017, remembers the days before the current dynasty.

“I do recall those lean years that we had way back when,” Weinmeister said, “but hopefully, there’s still the culture there and the understanding of what we have to do to maintain that.”

Interestingly enough, this year’s team has no seniors, and the junior players were all sixth graders the last time Weinmeister was on the sidelines.

“It’s a young team. You take away those six juniors and a few sophomores, and the rest are freshman. Our goalie is only an eighth-grader,” Weinmeister said. “It’s a real young team, but they’ve some good talent. It’s just a matter of us kind of filling some gaps as far as making sure that we are playing well as a team and moving the puck.”

The junior class is comprised of Madeline Witte, Reece Ermer, Sidney Hofer, Ema Rehder, Lauren Scheel and Taylor Nash.

Weinmeister is hoping to continue to build on the culture that was established the first time he coached.

“They had a taste of what my expectations were before, so I’m hoping they’re going to be the ones to lead that,” Weinmeister said of the junior class.

Look for the Cougars to play an up-tempo style to try to take advantage of their overall team speed.

“I think we’re going to have some speed which is good,” Weinmeister said. “We just have to get it together where we can move the puck rapidly and take advantage of our speed and use the whole ice.”

The Cougars open the season Friday at Huron, before hosting Sioux Center on Saturday and Sunday at the Odde Ice Center.

While the team will be young this season, Weinmeister sees the potential that this group has.

“I remember before, we were young back then, too, but I don’t think we had the talent that we have now,” he said. “So now it’s a matter of getting the talent to play together and mesh well as a team; so it’s just trying to fit that piece of the puzzle together.”

The Cougars have been the dominant team in girls’ varsity hockey for the past seven years, losing just one game in state tournament competition during that time.

Weinmeister knows that other teams will be gunning for the defending state champs each time the Cougars step out on the ice. While the squad will be aiming for yet another title this season, Weinmeister said he doesn’t talk too much about that.

“I don’t talk about that per se , but I do talk about the little things that get us to where we want to be,” Weinmeister said. “I need to be able to skate hard, I need to win my shift, the little things like that. If we can focus on those little things and ensure that we’re consistently doing the little things well, the success will take care of itself.”

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