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Blue Devils will rely on youth movement

Kylee Helling (6) is one of the eighth-graders on Jim Conrad's Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek girls' hockey team this season.1 / 2
Eighth-grader Sarah Holm will be looking for some time in the net this winter for the Blue Devils.2 / 2

Youth will be both a strength and weakness this season for the Long Prairie-Grey Eagle/Wadena-Deer Creek Blue Devils.

Nine of the 14 girls that head coach Jim Conrad will put on the ice this winter are seventh-, eighth- or ninth-graders. Defenseman Kylee Damm is out for the first time as a seventh-grader. Eighth-graders will be defenseman Sarah Najjar, goalie Sarah Holm and forward Kylee Helling. Freshmen on the team will be forwards Samantha Killian, Katelyn Peters and Hayli Toenyan along with defenseman Brooke Umland and Halley Maas.

"The young ladies will definitely be a boost to the team," Conrad said. "Scoring could be a problem this year, however, that is being addressed in every practice and the girls are showing a lot of promise in that regard. We also have some very good returning players that are juniors and seniors that will bring wisdom and the ability to teach the younger girls."

The Blue Devils will lean heavily on the sticks of senior forwards Kelly Casperson, Samantha Holweger and Cossandra Behl. Leah Dykhoff, a be a senior defenseman, was a strong scorer last year.

Junior Samantha Gorka will return in goal.

The Blue Devils are coming off a 3-19-1 season. The Blue Devils, who had only two seniors on the team last year, scored 51 goals in 23 games.

Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes are expected to be two of the top challengers for the Section 6A title.