Prep girls hockey: Hommerding hopes for Mirage titleLike a setter in volleyball or a golfer in spring, Proctor- Hermantown goalie Kylie Hommerding is expected to be calm, cool and collected, no matter what just happened.
By: Jon Nowacki, Duluth News Tribune
Like a setter in volleyball or a golfer in spring, Proctor- Hermantown goalie Kylie Hommerding is expected to be calm, cool and collected, no matter what just happened.
That wasn’t always the case for Hommerding, who has learned to control her emotions in becoming a better goalie.
Hommerding hopes that pays dividends when fourth-seeded Proctor-Hermantown (18-9) plays fifth-seeded St. Paul United in the Class A girls hockey quarterfinals at 8 p.m. today at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. It is the Mirage’s second state tournament appearance, with senior center Reilly Fawcett being the only member of the team that advanced to the 2010 Class AA tournament.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking right now, but I think once we settle in, everything will calm down,” Hommerding said. “Playing goalie is nerve-wracking to begin with. To play goalie, you’ve got to get in the right mindset. If you let in a goal, you can’t let it get to you or you’ll let the team down. My teammates have done a great job helping with that.”
Hommerding wears her emotions on her sweater.
When an opposing player scores, and perhaps showboats a little, Hommerding’s displeasure is visible from the stands, with the senior slamming her stick against the crossbar.
“Kylie is one of the most competitive players we’ve got,” said Proctor-Hermantown coach Glen Gilderman, himself a former goalie. “She doesn’t like to get scored on — at all — in practice or in games. When girls celebrate after they score, it drives her crazy. So every once in a while, when she makes a big stop, she’ll do her own little celebration, too, just to get back at ’em.”
After alternating the past two years with Courtney Simmons, who graduated last spring, Hommerding took over as the Mirage’s No. 1 goalie.
After a shaky start, Simmons and the Mirage defense tightened. They played some of their best hockey in the Section 7A playoffs, allowing just five goals, with four of those coming on the power play. Hibbing-Chisholm was 3-for-3 on the power play but still lost 5-3 to the Mirage in the Section 7A title game on Friday.
Needless to say, the Mirage worked extensively on their penalty kill this week, because outside of being a player down, Hommerding was outstanding.
“We were just too passive against Hibbing, so we worked this week on being more aggressive,” Gilderman said. “That’s the other thing about Kyle: She kind of watches her own bobber. She is not going to get on the defense about what they’re doing. She knows that is the coaches’ job. She just worries about doing her own job.”
Despite the slow start, Hommerding, an assistant captain, has a 13-7 record this season, with a 2.66 goals-against average and .902 save percentage. While she wanted better numbers, she feels she is playing some of the best hockey of her career right now.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Hommerding said. “Hopefully, me just playing my best, that’ll put me out there. This is a big moment, right now, for our entire team. There is no waiting till next year.”
Hommerding was a setter for Proctor in the fall and plans on playing golf for the Rails this spring, but she’d like to play hockey in college. While college interest has been minimal, Hommerding and Co. hope a good performance in the state tournament will give her added exposure.
“Kylie has been waiting for this. She has been waiting for this time,” Gilderman said. “It’s going to be fun to watch her down here show off her skills a little bit.”