Marshall Hilltoppers Add Girl's Hockey Program

By KBJR News 1

July 20, 2011 Updated Jul 20, 2011 at 9:47 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Duluth Marshall Hilltoppers have officially added a girl's hockey program for the first time in school history, to begin play in the 2011-2012 season.

The Hilltoppers formerly played as part of the Mirage, a three-school cooperative with Proctor and Hermantown. Funding issues, though, forced the school to withdraw from that team after the 2010-2011 season.

The Hilltoppers will play the 2011-2012 season at the U14 level, for which a schedule is still being finalized. From there, the team will play its second and third seasons at the U16 and U18 levels, respectively.

A three-person coaching staff has been hired for the Hilltoppers' inaugural season. Dr. Brian Konowalchuk will be the team's head coach, with Amber Fryklund acting as the team's assistant coach and Patty Elsmore-Sautter as the team's goaltending coach.

Konowalchuk comes from a strong hockey background, having played in the WCHA for the University of Denver before being drafted third overall in the 1992 NHL Supplemental Draft by the San Jose Sharks.

“Practice will be the core of the program," Konowalchuk said. "Daily morning ice time will allow for a better balance of academics with athletics. The girls will be learning advanced concepts that are typically foreign to kids their age. The increased ice time will boost their individual abilities within a school environment that promotes a high level of academic growth.”

Fryklund played her high school hockey at Hibbing before playing in college at Bemidji State. She also brings four years of coaching experience to the table, having coached with the Duluth Northern Stars and the P-H-M Mirage before coming to the Hilltoppers.

Elsmore-Sautter, meanwhile, was a star for the UMD Bulldogs and played in the Olympics for Switzerland. She has coached the Roseau girl's team and is currently also the goaltending coach for the St. Scholastica women.

Duluth Marshall has applied for official sanctioned status from Minnesota Hockey, but that application has initially been denied.

Posted by Zach Schneider