Sports | Tyler Schmidt
Plastered on the back of the women’s hockey team shirts is the phrase “Take the Next Step.” The team looks to the future with optimism, seeking to avoid complacency and make improvements in every facet. Led by senior all-american forward Cristina Masten, the Royals have their sights set high for a successful season.
The Bethel women’s hockey team is off to a promising start this season, beginning with a 5-3 victory over the No. 6-ranked UW-River Falls Falcons, after falling to them by just one goal night before. This is the first time in Bethel’s history that the Royals have defeated the Falcons to start the season. Coach Brian Carlson credits the Royals' early success to the team’s upperclassmen and leaders.
Picked to finish third in the MIAC preseason rankings, Masten and the rest of the Royals have their sights set much higher. When asked about goals the team has for this current season, Masten was quick to say that they are striving to make the national tournament. The Royals have made the MIAC playoffs each of the last three seasons, so the team is expecting big things.
“Gustavus is also our biggest rival,” Masten commented. “They’ve knocked us out of the playoffs every year I’ve been here, so it would be awesome to knock them out for a change.”
Head coach Brian Carlson said that he is excited for this season as he and the rest of the staff are encouraging the team to build off of the momentum from the last few years.
The Royals’ success, while most certainly a team effort, has been aided by Masten's stellar play. Entering her fourth and final season as a Royal, Masten has already become the all-time goal leader with 56 goals, breaking the previous record of 50. If Masten continues her progression of goal scoring, she could distance herself from the previous record holder by 30 goals. Not only is Masten’s name at the top of the Bethel record books, her 24 goals last season tied the all-time MIAC record. The native of Fergus Falls also recorded seven game winning goals last season.
As if contributing by scoring goals wasn’t enough, Masten is no stranger to sharing the puck either. With the all-time goals record already in her possession, Masten is also on pace to become Bethel’s all-time points leader. At the start of the season, she needed only 18 total points to claim the record. With the victory over River Falls, Masten narrowed that deficit by three points with one goal and two assists in the contest. In the 2012-2013 season, Masten scored 37 points.
Despite having an abundance of personal success and recognition, Masten has a different view than most on these statistics.
“Breaking a record was never my goal,” Masten said. “I just want to do everything I can to make an impact for our team.”
When asked about her reaction to becoming Bethel’s all-time goals leader, Masten said that she had no idea she even broke the record until an article came out talking about it. As the accolades and records continue to pile up for the Bethel senior, she remains humble through it all, giving credit to everyone on the team.
“As far as personal successes go, I give all the credit to my line mates and teammates,” Masten said. “They’re the ones that make everything happen. Those are team successes.”
An 11-5-2 conference record last season and plenty of returning firepower gives coach Carlson a reason for confidence. “I think we’ll be faster, smarter, and we look to Cristina and two of our juniors, Kalie Johnson and Lindsay Burman, for leadership this year.”