Liggett girls hockey shooting for more playoff success

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 13, 2018

 Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett senior captain Olivia Yates skates during a recent game against Ann Arbor Skyron. Last season, Liggett won a Division 2 championship.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett senior captain Olivia Yates skates during a recent game against Ann Arbor Skyron. Last season, Liggett won a Division 2 championship.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The story of last season’s Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett girls hockey team had the makings of a Hollywood movie.

In the Michigan Metro Girls High School Hockey League Division 2 championship game against Ann Arbor Pioneer last March, the Knights were trailing 6-1 after the second period before coming back to win 8-6.

Liggett entered the playoffs with a losing record and had a freshman starting goalie in Eve Bournias, who according to coach Anna Kuehnlein, had never skated prior to joining the team.

Kuehnlein said Bournias turned out to be “phenomenal.”

Liggett’s success came despite some preseason concern that there might not be enough girls to have a team.

The end result doesn’t have to be a just a pleasant distant memory. For as long as Kuehnlein is leading the program, she can use it as a reminder of what is possible.

“People didn’t even think that we’d be able to make it to the championship game, let alone come back and win it,” Kuehnlein said. “You hear adults tell kids, like, ‘You can do anything,’ and ‘Anything is possible.’ But when they actually go out there and do it themselves, that’s when you really start to believe. They use that as a reminder that they really can do anything that they put their minds and hearts into.”

Kuehnlein said this season has been fun and has been going well. At press time, the Knights were 8-5 overall.

With a lot of “really strong returning players,” including senior captain Olivia Yates, Kuehnlein has enjoyed having some rink time with her players.

“The girls are wonderful, and we have really good memories from last season,” she said. “We’ve already made some great ones this season, and hopefully, our journey (will) take us to places where we’re making a lot more good memories.”

Kuehnlein said coaching the Knights has been “a dream come true.”

“I’ve coached for a pretty long time now, but being able to go to Liggett was on my bucket list,” she said.

The motto this season is “Are you in, or are you in the way?”

“We are hungry to keep succeeding, keep building the program, and keep encouraging girls that it doesn’t matter when you start. As long as you’re willing to work hard, you can start, you can play, (and) you can succeed in this game, especially at a place like Liggett,” Kuehnlein said.