Breck Is Back
Breck girls’ hockey is resurging thanks to defense and positive team culture.
If you look at the state championship banners that hang at Anderson Ice Arena in Golden Valley, home of the Breck girls’ hockey team, you may be surpised to learn that the last three seasons weren’t championship caliber for the Mustangs.
Breck, which has won four Class 1A state championships, lost 47 games and won only 19 in a three-season span from 2020-21 to 2022-23. The Mustangs have also won just a single Section 5A playoff game in this span after winning the Class 1A championship in 2020.
The 2023-24 season, however, has been an improvement over the previous three. With two games remaining in its regular season, Breck has a record of 17-6, averaging 4 goals per game while maintaining a team goals-against average of 1.74.
Mustangs head coach Tricia Luoma took over the program in 2021. Luoma skated for the U.S. Women’s National Team in three Winter Olympics and won two medals. As a player, she was a penalty-kill specialist.
“This is exciting for these players to see the big picture and the wins on the scoreboard after enduring a couple years of tough seasons,” Luoma said. “Our strength is that we have speed. We are fast. We are creative. At times, we are relentless. We’re working on being gritty all the time.”
Breck’s defense has allowed two goals or fewer in 10 consecutive games since its Dec. 29 win over Blake. Senior goalie Mackenzie Abbott has posted back-to-back shutouts with 22 saves in the No. 9 Mustangs’ 6-0 win over Waconia on Jan. 25 and 13 saves in Breck’s 2-0 win over No. 17 Luverne on Jan. 27.
“Our defense has improved incredibly since last year,” Abbott said. “That’s helped us a lot. We recognize as a team that getting the puck deep is what’s going to help us most. We have speed on the team, so we use it to our advantage most of the time.”
The Breck penalty kill has been superb with a percentage of 88.3 percent. It hasn’t allowed a power-play goal in its last seven games.
“We’re young, so we can take dumb penalties,” Luoma said. “We have to be able to kill those off. A lot of it is having an active stick, putting your stick in lanes and making them think twice before they make a pass. As a team, [we’ve been] working on our defensive zone for three years because for the first two years, we spent a lot of time in our D-zone. It needed to be strong so that we could get the puck out of the zone.”
Offensively, the Mustangs have been led by a newcomer to the program in eighth-grade forward Taylor Hall. Hall, who shares the same name as the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and is a former NHL MVP, leads Breck in goals with 14, assists with 17 and points with 31. She is averaging 1.35 points per game.
Hall spent last season with the Rogers Royals program. As a seventh-grader, she scored four goals and recorded five assists for a total of nine points with a team that has yet to make the Class 2A state tournament. Hall scored a goal against the Royals on Dec. 27, 2023, in Breck’s 4-3 loss to Rogers.
“The girls [at Breck] are very welcoming,” Hall said. “It’s always fun to play your old team.”
With only four seniors on the team, Hall said Breck’s youth and positive team chemistry have led the Mustangs to more wins than losses this season.
“Before our 6:45 [p.m.] practice, we all go get Starbucks, hang out at the rink and do homework,” Hall said. “We all support each other off the ice.”
Breck is on a five-game winning streak and has won nine of its last 10 games. The Mustangs haven’t lost consecutive games since late December and hope to return to the Class 1A state tournament for the first time in four years.
“We have a great mix of senior leadership and middle school players,” Luoma said. “It’s been a fun challenge for these two groups to find their way on and off the ice. It’s a fun time to be a Mustang. We put the work in. I’m proud of the players and the coaching staff.”
To view more photos: Gallery – Breck Girls Hockey