Even though the Park Rapids-Menahga-Nevis-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley girls hockey team didn't win a game all season, first-year head coach Rachel Landquist called the season a success.
"We didn't win any games this year, however we were successful in building some amazing strong relationships," said Landquist. "The girls were always happy and smiling, even after tough losses. If you ask me, that was success."
The Panthers averaged only 10 shots on goal a game while allowing an average of 55.2 shots on net while being outscored 159-19 during a 0-21 season. Park Rapids was shut out 10 times while scoring one goal in six other games. Of those losses, four were by one goal, including three in overtime.
After being outshot 62-5 in a 13-0 loss to Northern Lakes in the season and Mid-State Conference opener, the Panthers battled in a 3-2 loss to Morris/Benson, which held a 36-26 advantage in shots on goal. The 26 shots on goal were a season best for Park Rapids.
The Panthers were outscored 43-3 in their next five games in losses to International Falls (8-1 while being outshot 56-11), Crookston (8-1) and Thief River Falls (11-1) at the Engelstad Classic at Thief River Falls while being outshot 109-15, Detroit Lakes (4-0 with a 62-19 disadvantage in shots in a conference game) and Thief River Falls (12-0 while being outshot 61-5).
Morris/Benson used a 40-22 edge in shots to escape again with a 5-4 victory in overtime before Eveleth-Gilbert used a 58-12 advantage in shots in a 3-2 victory.
In the next six games, the Panthers were outscored 58-5 in losses to Detroit Lakes (12-3 while being outshot 68-9), Bemidji (14-0 while being outshot 60-5), Prairie Centre (8-0 while being outshot 63-8 in a conference game), Grand Forks (7-1 while being outshot 60-6), East Grand Forks (12-1 while being outshot 65-10) and International Falls (5-0 while being outshot 56-6).
Crookston prevailed 3-2 in overtime with a 42-15 edge in shots to lock up the No. 5 seed in Section 8A. Park Rapids closed out the regular season with losses to Northern Lakes (3-0 with a 72-6 disadvantage in shots), East Grand Forks (6-0 with a 78-11 disadvantage in shots), Prairie Centre (7-1 while being outshot 43-10) and Eveleth-Gilbert (6-0 while being outshot 79-7).
Prairie Centre and Northern Lakes shared the conference title with 5-1 records while Detroit Lakes finished 2-4. Park Rapids went 0-6 in conference games.
Park Rapids received the No. 6 seed for the Section 8A playoffs and opened with a 9-0 loss to No. 3 East Grand Forks in the quarterfinals. EGF used a 54-5 advantage in shots to advance. Warroad, the No. 1 seed, defeated No. 2 Thief River Falls 4-1 in the section title game and went on to claim runner-up honors at the state Class A tournament for the second year in a row. Breck defeated Warroad 3-2 in overtime in the 2018 title game and 6-1 in this year's state final. Warroad, which was rated No. 1 all season, finished the year rated No. 2 while Thief River Falls (No. 5) and East Grand Forks (No. 9) were rated in the final Class A poll.
Leading the Panthers this season were seniors Kylee Pachel, Alexa Kennedy and Kinley Nordin; sophomores Shailyn Pachel and Elise Rice; freshmen Katie Sagen and Abi Strandlie; eighth graders Madelyn Ackerman, Savannah Anderson and Amelia Pierce; and seventh graders Grace Ackerman, Ella Burlingame and Kiana Landt.
Kylee Pachel was named the Panthers' MVP and earned all-conference honorable mention honors as the Panthers' goalie. Pachel played in 20 games, allowing 150 goals while making 965 saves on 1,115 shots for an .865 save percentage. Pachel faced an average of 55.8 shots a game and allowed an average of 7.50 goals a game while going 0-20.
Kennedy also received all-conference honorable mention honors after leading the Panthers in scoring with 12 goals and two assists for 14 points while playing in all 21 games.
Also playing in all 21 games were Rice (four assists), Sagen (two goals, one assist), Landt (one goal, one assist), Strandlie (one assist), Nordin (one assist), Pierce, Madelyn Ackerman, Grace Ackerman and Burlingame. Anderson (two goals, one assist) and Shailyn Pachel (two goals) played in 20 games.
With the graduation of the three seniors, the Panthers will feature even a younger team next season. But Landquist is looking for the returning group to continue to improve and build for the future.
"I am honored to be called 'coach' by these wonderful girls. Losing our seniors will definitely make a huge dent on next year, but the girls will keep pushing," said Landquist, who was assisted by James Sanchez. "The younger girls improved tremendously throughout the season. I believe in them. Hopefully we can keep the team going, continue to work hard and have some more fun next year."