As soon as MaKayla Sandvold exhausted her eligibility last spring, second-year Minot coach Weylin Wahlstrom was already penning ways to compensate for the loss of the state's leading scorer.
With the return of senior forward Jessie Kongelf - North Dakota's third-leading scorer last winter - and a grip of experience, those plans looked feasible.
But when budding talent Sheyenne MacIver (25 goals) opted to finish her prep career in Alaska, it didn't help Wahlstrom's cause. Couple that with the early-season injuries of letter winners Makaila Anderson (wrist) and Taryn Love (foot) and things begin to look arduous for the Majettes.
MDN File Photo
Then-junior Angie Lothspeich fires a pass around a West Fargo defender during a game at Maysa Arena last season.
Now Minot, which opens its season tonight at 7:30 against Mandan at Maysa Arena, will rely on a few underclassmen to help build off of last season's 15-9-1 mark.
"We're looking young and inexperienced," Wahlstrom said. "And we're making some young mistakes. But this is a very hard-working team and we'll know more about ourselves as the games come."
If there's one position that's loaded with experience, though, it's goaltender.
Meet the Majettes
Seniors - Karlee Galvin, Autumn Smith, Alex Harrom, Angie Lothspeich, Jessie Kongelf, Hannah Thom.
Juniors - Alaynee Thompson, Makaila Anderson, Skyler Sattler, Sydney Swanson.
Sophomores - Taryn Love, Jessica Drady.
Freshmen - Alissa Ewan, Sydney Boyce, Taylor Hooker, Kinsey Hanson, Maddy Sem.
Eighth-graders - Mackinzy MacIver, Bryanna Bergeron.
November - Tonight, vs. Mandan, 7:30 p.m.; 30, at Devils Lake, 5:30 p.m.
December - 1, at Grand Forks, 2:30 p.m.; 7, vs. Jamestown, 7:30 p.m.; 8, vs. Fargo South, 2 p.m.; 12, at Williston, 7 p.m.; 15, at Dickinson, 3 p.m.; 18, at Bismarck, 7 p.m.; 27, at Crookston Jamboree; 28, at Crookston Jamboree.
January - 4, at West Fargo, 7:30 p.m.; 5, at Fargo North, 2 p.m.; 10, vs. Williston, 7:30 p.m.; 12, vs. Dickinson, 4:30 p.m.; 19, vs. Grand Forks, 2 p.m.; 25, at Jamestown, 7 p.m.; 26, at Fargo South, 2 p.m.; 31 at Mandan, 7 p.m.
February - 2, vs. Bismark, 3 p.m.; 8, vs. Fargo North, 2 p.m.; 9, vs West Fargo, 5:30 p.m.; 21, State at Grand Forks; 22, State at Grand Forks; 23, State at Grand Forks.
Sydney Swanson and Hannah Thom both return after starting last season, but now Minot can go three-deep with proven goalies. Senior Karlee Galvin, who missed all of the 2011 season due to a concussion, is also in the mix after holding down the starting job in 2010.
"(Galvin) and (Swanson) will be battling this year," Wahlstrom said. "(Thom) is steady and could be in there, too. There's a lot of competition there."
Senior forward Alex Harrom, a team captain, will anchor Minot defensively. Fellow senior Angie Lothspeich also returns at forward.
Minot, which lost five seniors to graduation, bids adieu to three defenders, making junior Skyler Sattler the lone returnee at the position.
But when Love and Anderson - both expected to start this season - return, Wahlstrom expects an immediate boost.
"It's going to take a little while for us to transition," said Wahlstrum, who has five freshman and two eighth graders on his team. "But we could be a different team by the time (Love and Anderson) are healthy and we start to plug them in."
Until then Kongelf will be looked to shoulder the scoring load after tallying 58 points a year ago. Against an ever-improving West Region, though, she'll need help around her.
"We're going to need a couple of girls that will be able to skate with her," Wahlstrom said. "...Everybody is improving on the western side of the state. Overall, girls hockey is just getting better and better every year."