New local girls hockey team sets big goals despite small size
November 2, 2022
Huddling up before a game - The members of the Indiana Elite team encourage one another with a pep talk
Developed in Hamilton County, a new program known as the Indiana Elite girls 16 and under team makes do with their small roster while playing higher level teams and plans on qualifying for Nationals in March.
In prior years, the Indiana Elite Program only consisted of boys teams in the birth years of 2009-2012 as well as 10u prospects. This year, the program has added 12u, 14u, and 16u girls’ teams.
“This season is a new Elite program,” the 16u girls head coach, Torey Crown said. “So with that comes more commitment to be better and to want to be there for hockey and get recruited. So it's a different type of mentality that I am working with and having the ability to also have the support from a program that puts funds into it because they believe in making the team elite athletes.”
Building strong athletes both on and off the ice while trying to get recruited for college hockey, the 16u team has set many big goals for the season including going to Nationals, held in California, and playing at many highly scouted tournaments.
“I am very excited for our CCM tournament in Detroit,” Crown said. “That's always a really tough competition and a lot of scouts there. I also want to develop the team as players and it's not necessarily about the wins right now because we are a brand new program, so it is about getting our recognition, but also building character and building us as a good team and good players.”
Heading into the team's second month of the season, they are in a whopping loss streak with a win-loss rate of 0-1-6. Shots on the opponent’s net range from 5-15, while the opponents' shots average from 30-40. Having only 11 skaters each game with many penalties and many hurt players, the small roster could be easily blamed for the losses.
“What I think is challenging about the small roster is having to build endurance,” Crown said. “All the big challenge is really just endurance and making sure people don’t get injured. Those are the two challenges.”
The team plans to overcome the losing streak by taking advantage of their “grit groups.” The grit groups are small groups of 3-4 teammates that compete against each other for “grit points” in order to win a prize at the end of the two-month session. The idea of the grit groups is to allow players to hold each other accountable for both on-ice and off-ice practice.
“I like the grit groups,” Lily Henderson, the team’s starting line center said. “It allows our team to be more competitive towards each other.”
Competition doesn’t end there. Development weekends are held almost every non-game scheduled weekend. The weekend is designed to go more in-depth into skills the team wouldn’t typically have time to cover during a regular weekly practice. The practices offer more chances for the players to work on their skill level while also competing against other teammates during drills.
“Development weekends give us time to go more in-depth on our plays,” Henderson said. “One strength our team has is that we all get along and agree that we have to work hard every time we play, even during practices.”
To accomplish the team’s major goal of attending Nationals this season, the team acknowledges their struggles of maintaining their endurance and working on both on-ice and off-ice skills.
“A lot of our shots will just be getting the puck and standing still and shooting,” Crown said. “What we need to do is drive to the net. We need to get these good tape-to-tape passes, but then the player needs to be driving to the net and shooting easier, harder, and in motion. Not out wide standing flat-footed.”
Trying to redirect their losses to big goals for the future, the Indiana Elite 16u girls team sets out to defeat their opponents in upcoming games. With the passion to get recognition as a high-level team, Indiana Elite won’t stop until they get what they want.
“We are playing harder and faster teams,” Crown said. “It's going to be an uphill battle to get there. Right now, just keep persevering through it and working on our endurance and strength.”