By Bob San
Graduation hit the Osseo boys’ hockey team hard and but the Orioles received a boost with the addition of four veteran Park Center players after the North Metro team they were on folded.
The Orioles return only four players with varsity experience. Osseo captains this year are senior defenseman Tyler Sims, senior goalie Alex Otto and junior defenseman AJ Lyons. The four former varsity Pirates who join the Orioles are senior Chris Madsen, juniors Austin Ledin and Tyler Stroh and sophomore Josh Stromberg.
“We are happy to have them as part of the program and expect them to help out immediately,” said Osseo co-head coach Kevin Wiley, who shares duties with Mark Phenow. “We had 49 players trying out this year, so we had to make a lot of difficult cuts.”
Wiley and Phenow decided on a team that is spread evenly among the classes.
“We have five seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and one freshman,” Wiley said. “We are excited to have a group that we can work with for the next couple years and continue to grow as a unit.”
The Orioles lost to No. 4 Minnetonka 5-1 in the season opener Nov. 28. The host Skippers outshot the Orioles 38-10. Otto was busy and made 33 saves.
Osseo skated three lines. Senior Drew Lofgren centered sophomore Rudy Alexander and junior Drake Stimpson on the first line. The line held its own and created some good scoring chances. Alexander scored Osseo’s lone goal with an assist from Lofgren.
The all sophomore line of Mason Hautala centering Stromberg and Ben Christofferson also saw plenty of action and junior Jared Vance skated between sophomore Logan Olson and Madsen on line three.
On defense, Sims was paired with Ledin, Lyons with freshman Boone Almquist and Stroh with sophomore Zach Heiser.
The first game showed the Orioles’ inexperience against a veteran and top-ranked team in Minnetonka. Wiley said this is expected and looks for his young squad to improve as the season progresses.
“We will be somewhat inexperienced, losing 13 seniors to graduation last year,” Wiley said. “But overall I believe we have more playmakers with solid speed. We will definitely have some bumps along the way this season, but as always we strive to be playing our best hockey at the end of the season when sections roll around.”
The Orioles next visit No. 8 Blaine Thursday, Dec. 6.