January 03, 2018 06:38 PM
(ABC 6 News) – The John Marshall Rockets girls hockey team swept their competition at the Austin Merchants’ Holiday Classic last week—and the Rockets were fueled by their rising sophomore talent.
Sophomore forward Ashley Koehler, who’s in her fourth-year of varsity hockey, has led the way for the Rockets on the ice in 2017-2018.
“(Ashley is) an amazing hockey player,” Rockets head coach Josh Chapman said. “She works hard, she wants to learn all the time, she’s always asking questions, and her work ethic is by far one of the best I’ve seen in boys or girls hockey.”
Entering Dec. 27, the Rockets had won only two games—one week later, they’re at five wins, and their rise on the ice correlates with Koehler’s rise as a hockey player.
“She’s getting better, the team is too, and she’s leading by example,” Chapman said. “She’s only a sophomore but she’s been here three years already, so she’s showing the younger girls how it needs to be done.”
In Austin, the Rockets topped Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato (4-2), Austin (6-1), and Worthington (10-2) to take first place at the tournament.
Koehler, who said she has plenty of “friends” who play for Austin, led the Rockets throughout the entire three-game stretch.
“You know how we always have those friend rivals? I had that the whole game, so I always wanted to score score score, and beat the teams we were playing against,” Koehler said.
All Koehler did was “score, score, score,” as she racked up hat tricks against Worthington and Austin, and she scored seven total goals in those three games.
“I usually look for the openings, (my former coach Bob Montrose) would say the goalies are always leaving an opening right below the gloves because they can’t get down all the way, or if they’re down, then by the ears, because they can’t get to the spot right away, so I always look for the openings,” Koehler said.
Koehler isn’t just becoming a dynamic offensive threat on the ice—she’s becoming an all-around better hockey player on both ends of the rink.
“She’s learning the defensive zone a lot more, and that’s making her a better player,” Chapman said. “At the beginning of the year, she’d work with the puck, but now she’s learning every aspect of the game and I think that’s going to make her a great player.”
Luckily for John Marshall, Koehler was close to not playing for the Rockets—following the 2016-2017 season, John Marshall and Lourdes high schools broke up their cooperative sponsorship in girls’ hockey. Many players chose to play for Lourdes—Koehler nearly joined her now former teammates, but she chose to venture off onto a different path and stay with the Rockets.
“I knew there were so many girls going to Lourdes and nobody here, and I’ve already been on this team, and I already knew everybody from JM on this team, so I just wanted to stick with those girls because I’ve been friends with them forever,” Koehler said.
Despite a slow, and what she described as a “rough” start (John Marshall began the season 0-7 before winning their first game on Dec. 5 versus Albert Lea), Koehler is happy to be a Rocket, and Chapman couldn’t be happier to have her in his program.
“Just seeing her work day-in and day-out, wanting to make herself and her teammates better, it’s very fun to see that,” Chapman said.
“Some of these girls, it’s their first year, so they haven’t gotten quite used to the level at the beginning,” Koehler said. “I’m hoping to help them to get used to the high school level. I’ve told myself ‘I can do this, I need to help the other girls,’ but I can still play my game.”
Koehler and the Rockets will look to win their fourth-straight game on Thursday night versus the Mankato West Scarlets.
Updated: January 03, 2018 06:38 PM
Created: January 03, 2018 05:08 PM
Copyright 2018 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company