BEMIDJI, Minn. - Bemidji State University head women’s hockey coach Bruce Olson announced today the signing of six players to National Letters of Intent for the 2003-2004 season.
This year’s class includes players from near and far as the team has collected players from as close as Bemidji High School as well as recruiting across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in the school’s short history. The class also includes experience at the international level. Two signees, Nina Ziegenhals and Helena Tageson, have national team experience for their respective countries, another first for BSU.
Olson on overall class - “This class has overall good speed and puck skills. Women’s hockey is about total hockey skills and this class will be strong in those areas.”
Nina Ziegenhals (D, 5’6”, Sankt Augustin, Germany/Team Germany) - Ziegenhals has been a member of Team Germany since 1999 collecting experience in over 70 international games including the 2000 and 2001 Women’s World Championships. In 2000, Team Germany finished 7th and in 2001 the team finished in 5th place. Ziegenhals was also a member of the 2002 German women’s ice hockey team that participated in the Salt Lake City Olympic Games placing sixth.
Ziegenhals has been a member of three straight German Championship teams. During the 2002-2003
season, she played in all 18 games collecting five goals and 16 assists for 21 points --a mark that would position her as the most prolific defensive scorer in the league and 12th overall in scoring.
Olson on Ziegenhals - “Nina is the most experienced player we will have on our roster next season. Experience is something you can’t teach and any player who has participated in two World Championships and the Olympics already has that intangible. She plays a very strong defensive game and has the ability to take the puck up the ice at any time. She will be expected to step right in at defense and pull a lot of shifts next season including the opportunity to key our power play. She has the ability to be one of the most highly-skilled defensemen in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.”
Helena Tageson (F, 5’ 6”, Malmo, Sweden/Team Sweden) - Tageson is the second of two players on the 2003-2004 roster to make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to play for BSU. A native of Malmo, Sweden, she becomes the first Swedish-born player to play for the BSU women’s team.
Tageson brings international experience to BSU after being selected to the Swedish National Team for the 2002-2003 season where she competed at the Four Nations Cup.
Olson on Tageson - “Helena is a strong forward who has international experience and has already played at the highest level of women’s hockey. Being a current member of Sweden’s National Team, she plays the international style of hockey that depends on speed and passing. She will bring a highly-skilled level of play to our program and make an immediate impact next season.”
Amy Zyllo (D, 5’ 8”, Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji High School) - Zyllo becomes the only Bemidji High School player on the 2003-2004 roster.
The Bemidji, Minn. native, led the Bemidji High girl’s team in assists and was its second-leading scorer during the 2002-2003 campaign. Her +/- total of +44 led all players and helped BHS to an overall record of 23-4-1 on its way to the section final.
Zyllo collected a number of accolades while at BHS. She was named to the All-Conference and All-State teams last season and was one of ten finalists for the coveted Ms. Hockey Minnesota after her senior season.
Olson on Zyllo - “Amy is another strong, physical defensemen that can handle the puck. She is the type of player a coach wants on the ice in a clutch situation. Last season at Bemidji High School, she proved that she was the player they wanted with the puck when the game was on the line. Next season, we hope she can bring that experience to our team and be one of the players we want on the ice at the end of the game.”
Nikki Eckebrecht (F/D, 5’ 6”, Hamilton, Ont. Canada/Beatrice Jr. Aeros) - Eckebrecht comes to Bemidji State as one of the most versatile athletes in this year’s recruiting class. Not only has she participated in a variety of sports, she has been a crucial piece of each team and has been successful at every level.
Eckebrecht’s hockey experience over the past four years has been with the Angela James Junior Aeros.
With that team, she won the North Metro League Championship, the North Metro/Southern League Inter-League Championship and was a member of the Ontario Provincial Championship team. From 2001-2003, she served as the team’s captain.
At defense during her most recent season, she recorded 17 goals and 25 assists for 42 points. She also competed in the Canadian Under 18 National Championships where she was voted Most Valuable Player.
Some of her greatest athletic achievements came in 2001 when she was selected to Team Canada for girl’s baseball, the Team Ontario girl’s ice hockey team, and won the Provincial Championships with her Jr. Aeros team. In the same year, she was also a member of Bishop Ryan High School boy’s baseball team.
Eckebrecht will be rejoining her former Beatrice Jr. Aeros teammate Mandy Bambrough on the BSU roster next season.
Olson on Eckebrecht - “Nikki is a strong, physical forward that not only will bring speed and durability to our forwards but will also bring leadership on the ice during games. She will be highly visible in the offensive end of the ice and she has also spent time on defense giving her the ability to be a complete forward.”
Kelly Hart (F, 5’7”, Ajax, Ont. Canada/Duram Lightning Int. AA/Telus Lightning Sr. Women’s AAA ) - Hart comes to Bemidji State after recording 99 points in 63 games played for the Duram Lightning Int. AA team during the previous two seasons.
She comes to BSU as a player who can score. In the 2002 Mississauga Tournament alone, she scored a sudden death shoot-out goal to win the semi-final game and then scored the game winner to vault her team to the tournament championship.
Hart helped to lead her team to a second place finish in the North Metro League in 2003 and was accepted to Ontario’s Under 18 team.
Olson on Hart - “Kelly is a tall, highly-skilled, forward that comes complete. She not only has great skating speed, but she also has excellent hand-eye coordination. She will come through big in games and will be counted on to make up some of the scoring for BSU next season. Kelly will also bring some much-needed size to our offense.”
Jenn Sadler (F, 5’4”, Pickering, Ont. Canada/Duram Lightening Int. AA) - Sadler comes to Bemidji State after a career in which she has proven that she can put the puck in the net. She amassed 151 points in the previous three years playing for the Duram Lightning Intermediate AA team. In each of the last three season’s she collected at least 20 goals. She completed her best year in 2003 with 24 goals and 40 assists for 64 points.
The Pickering Ont., native knows what it takes to win in her three years with the Duram Lightning as her team finished at the top of the Northern Metro Girls Hockey League once and was runner-up twice. She also helped build the St. Mary’s High School team from the bottom up. A member of the school’s inaugural team, she helped lead the club from its inception to a second place finish in the High School Provincial Championships in 2001. She went on to capture the runner-up trophy again in 2002 as well as leading the team to the Provincial Championship in 2003.
Sadler was the assistant captain for St. Mary’s for the past two seasons. She was also the 2003 recipient of the OFSAA Heart and Soul Award for outstanding leadership and contribution to girls hockey.
Olson on Sadler - “Jenn is a very fast forward with good instincts on the ice. She will make her presence felt in front of the opposing team’s net. She will also stand out on the defensive end of the rink. Her work ethic and play-making abilities will make her a great asset to our team and she will be counted on to put the puck in the net next season."