Before the season started, Rushmore Thunder girls' varsity coach Brady Pinney identified the Aberdeen Cougars as the team to beat in South Dakota.
After the first weekend of the South Dakota Amateur Hockey Association season, his prediction is turning out to be correct.
Aberdeen completed a weekend sweep of the Thunder at the Thunderdome with a 8-0 win Sunday. The win followed a 10-0 win Friday and a 6-0 win Saturday.
Despite the final scores, Pinney said the weekend was a positive for the Thunder.
"I think we learned a lot, we have a lot of things we need to work on," he said. "The thing I’m most happy about is that they played hard the whole game, all three games. They could have easily quit and just let it really, really get out of hand and they didn’t, so we can build off of that."
It was the first weekend of the league season and even though Rushmore will have to start the season 0-3, Pinney said playing the most talented team right away is helpful.
"It’s a nice measuring stick at the beginning of the year. I think it’s good to play them at the beginning of the year and see where you’re at because they are the premiere program that everyone else in the rest of the state is trying to catch up to," he said. "We know right now that we have a lot of work to do to get to that point."
Sunday Kensington Eckhoff scored three goals while Madyson Ogdahl added two. Rhiannon Abel, Kamryn Hayhurst and Haiden Stoltenberg also scored.
Rushmore goalie Madyson Herman made 49 saves as the Thunder were outshot 57-6. Pinney said her performance kept a blowout from being even more ugly.
"The interesting thing about Maddy is that she skated out until three seasons ago, she’s a softball catcher so when you combine her ability to skate with her ability to play softball she’s a natural at goalie," he said. "She’s doing really well, she’s getting better every year. There’s things everyone can improve on but she’s getting better every day, every season and she’s one of the most valuable players we have."
Aberdeen scored three goals in the first period, two in the second and three in the third Sunday.
"We have to get better in the defensive zone and we have to create more offense as well," Pinney said. "We have to get better in a lot of different areas, but when these girls have a good work ethic, we can do a lot with that."
Overall Pinney said he can already see the difference in attitude from this year's team to last year's team.
"We have a lot to build off of, a lot to improve on obviously, but I’m very happy with their effort," he said. "We have to come back to practice and get better, and keep working hard. I would be a lot more upset about this if they had just laid down and given up, I think if this was last year’s team, the score could have been 15 or 20 (to zero)."
Rushmore travels to Watertown to take on the Lakers next weekend, who are 1-1-1 on the season.
Boys' varsity falls to Sioux Falls
After a 3-2 win Saturday, the Rushmore Thunder boys' varsity team fell to the Sioux Falls Flyers 8-3 Sunday.
The loss drops the Thunder to 1-1 on the young season.
Sioux Falls got off to a fast start, scoring the first four goals in the first period. Braden Malwitz scored the first Flyer goal, Keegan Anderson, Nate Mohr and Ryan Dinsmore all followed.
Austin Stiles scored the first Thunder goal 3:36 into the second, but Sioux Falls quickly made it 5-1 with another goal from Dinsmore four minutes later.
Stiles scored another goal 9:11 into the period off an assist from Jacob Lindblom and Zach Bender. Ryan Nolan then cut the lead to 5-3 when he scored on a penalty shot 13:02 into the second. The period would end with Sioux Falls leading 5-3.
The Flyers added three goals in the third to end any hope of a Rushmore comeback.
Mohr scored two goals in the period to give him a hat trick for the game. Nathan Moon added an additional goal.
The Thunder outshot the Flyers 42-27
Rushmore will host the Oahe Capitals Friday at 7:30 p.m.