A hockey player most have never heard of could be on her way to becoming a household name in the State of Hockey. Aliya Gricius, an eighth-grader, is the starting goalie for the Winona varsity team, and she has been defending more shots on goal than probably anyone on the planet.
During a 9-0 loss to Northfield on Saturday night, Gricius made an astounding 92 saves. Northfield out-shot Winona 101 to 3, peppering the eighth-grade netminder with 32 shots on goal in the first period, 38 in the second period and a further 31 in the third period.
"Tip of the cap to Winona girls hockey goalie Aliya Gricius, who made 92 — NINETY-TWO! — saves in the Winhawks’ 9-0 loss to Northfield last night. Gricius has been outstanding for an inexperienced Winhawks team this year, with an .884 save pct. while averaging 52.7 saves/game," tweeted Jason Feldman, of the Rochester Post-Bulletin.
In 816 minutes of ice time this season, Gricius had stood in front of 954 shots, blocking 843 of them for the 0-17 Winhawks, according to MN Hockey Hub. Her game log is mind-boggling to look at.
She made 86 saves in the season opener against Rochester Century, which is one of her seven games in which she's been peppered by at least 60 shots on goal.
During a February game in which Winona was getting crushed by Owatonna 8-0, Gricius caught the eye of Faribault Daily News sports writer Martin Schlegal, who tweeted: "As good as the Huskies have been tonight, I'd like to point out that Winona has an 8th grader in net. Aliya Gricius has an .818 SV% through two periods. She is absolutely the reason it's not double digits. Keep her name for future use."
Alex VandenHouten, of the Winona Daily News, called Gricius "as good as advertised" during a January game in which she made more than 80 saves.
Gricius will be back in goal Monday night when the Winona/Cotter Winhawks face Red Wing in the opening round of the Section 1A playoffs. The game starts at 7 p.m. in Red Wing.