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The champs (03/27/2005)
By Cynthya Porter


     The Winhawk adaptive floor hockey team: very front, Jordan Blood and Cole Stevens; second row, Matt Leisen, Mike Ferden, Chris Steffen, Brandon Eide, Hector Valenzuela, Carrie Sveen, Chad Lundahl; third row, Kayla Benter, Kyle Bronk, Bennett Mendyk, Tyler Herber, Eli Myers, Brandi Garfield, Jordan Wagner, Troy Stafford; back row, Rod Schwarz, Ben Warren, Chuck Schollmeier.
There is no question about it: they are the champions. The 18 young men and women of the Winona Senior High School adaptive floor hockey team proved that time and again this season, marching through 14 regular season games undefeated for the first time since the team's inception.

But just in case anyone hadn't gotten the message, the team bested everyone they came across in the playoffs too, emerging as unquestionably the best in the state by the time they were finished.

Getting to be state champions was a team effort from the beginning of the season, bringing veterans and rookies alike together in the quest. But getting to be the undefeated state champions was more like a dream. The team came just shy of that title in 2002 when it took the state championship but suffered one tie during the season.

In the state tournament, the Winhawks defeated Moundsview 9-0. According to game statistics provided by Mary Steffen, mother of senior captain and lead scorer Chris Steffen, player Mike Ferden, who is also a senior captain, scored four goals in the game. Chris Steffen scored two and Ben Warren and Chad Lundahl scored one each.

Goalie Hector Valenzuela, also known as "Hector the Protector," made 20 saves in that game.

The next game was a close match, with the Winhawks edging by St. Cloud 4-3 for the win. Goal scorers were Warren, Ferden, Steffen and Eli Meyers. Valenzuela came through in that game with another 24 saves.

The championship game was expected to be the toughest match of all, as the team would be playing last year's state champion.

But the Winhawks stayed strong and defeated the team 9-3, with Steffen scoring five goals, Ferden scoring two and Lundahl and Warren scoring one each. Valenzuela deflected 23 shots on the goal.

For their outstanding play during the season and the tournament, Steffen and Valenzuela were nominated to the all-tournament team.

The team is coached by Winona Middle School physical education teacher Rod Schwarz. 

 

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