Natural Goal Gifter: Austin sophomore is amongst the state’s best in scoring goals

Published 1:01 pm Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Austin sophomore hockey player Kate Holtz never had to learn how to shoot, but she sure has learned where to shoot.

Holtz, who had just six goals in her freshman season, has exploded into a scoring role for the Packers this winter as she has netted 16 goals and five assists. She ranks 10th in the state of Minnesota with 21 points and is 11th in the state in goals scored.

Austin head coach Troy Holtz, who is Kate’s father, said that Kate began her hockey career by being a back-up goalie as a nine-year old on her older sister Lily’s 12U team. Since that season, Kate has spent much more time scoring goals than stopping them.

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“It’s natural. It’s nothing I taught her. She’s shot the puck well as soon as she started playing hockey,” Troy said. “Kate’s scored at every level we’ve ever played. She shoots harder than most girls and she shoots the puck like a boy. Its hard and you can hear it when it hits the post or when it hits the glove. A little power behind the shot makes a big difference.”

While her power may be natural, Kate has put in a lot of hard work to become a better skater and a better finisher around the net.

“I work on my angles of where to shoot a lot,” Kate said. “When a goalie is down, they don’t cover up and if they’re down, you want to shoot right above their pad because they can’t really get their arm there in time. I work on a quick release so they don’t expect it to come.”

Kate Holtz unleashes a shot for the Austin girls hockey team in practice in Riverside Arena Monday. Rocky Hulne/

Kate grew up watching Troy coach the Packer boys and she also spent a lot of years cheering on her older sister Lily, who has played in 10 games this season as a freshman for St. Scholastica College in Duluth, where she has six shots and 15 blocks as a defender. The Saints are off to a 4-6 overall start to the season.

Kate also has dreams of playing college hockey.

“Lily motivates me to want to get better and get where she is,” Kate said. “My confidence has grown a lot (this year). I’m really getting used to being on the ice and handling the puck. I’m not so nervous about passing the puck or being out there.”

While Troy can attest that Lily and Kate have had their moments where they have argued like you would expect sisters to argue, he sees Lily as the best role model Kate could have.

“At times they clash, but Kate watches Lily and she really wants to get to that level,” Troy said. “Lily really supports Kate. She’s encouraging and helpful to her. Ultimately they’re pulling for each other and looking for the same result. Kate’s got a good role model in Lilly to look up to because Lilly is playing hockey at the college level and her grades are perfect.”

Kate has emerged as a leader for the Packers this season, whether it be by scoring a goal or cracking a joke to get a teammate to smile during a tough loss. Kate has remained positive throughout the year, and she loves being around hockey, whether it means watching a game on TV or going to one of her younger brother’s bantam games.

“I really want there to be more people playing hockey. It’s a really fun sport,” Kate said. “It can be hard, but you can have so much fun. You have a family with the team.”

Kate has also enjoyed her time playing for her dad.

“My dad has coached me since I was younger and he’s always pushed me to try harder at different things,” she said. “It’s just great to have him as my coach.”

As the holidays roll around, most families spend time huddled around a fire or a table full of food. The Holtz’s will spend a lot of time in hockey rinks.

They wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Hockey is the sport that brings us all together,” Troy said. “I’m usually at the rink for about four hours on most days. As a family, we’ve always watched a lot of hockey. I didn’t force any of the kids into it, but they all probably felt like hockey was the one thing they enjoyed and they picked it up.”

The Packers (5-7 overall) have won two straight games and they will host Faribault at 6 p.m. Friday.