Unbeaten Delano-Rockford boys hockey to challenge state-ranked teams

BY DAVID PEDERSEN

Overall, coach Steve Brown is “fairly happy” at this point of the season for the Delano-Rockford boys hockey team. The big question is will he still be smiling after facing two state-ranked teams.

“We have played well in 11 of the 12 periods so far and have been able to find a way to win each game,” said Brown about the 4-0 start to the season. “Our upcoming schedule will be challenging when are at No. 2 rated Breck Saturday (3 p.m. Dec. 8) and No. 4 Saint Cloud Cathedral next Thursday (7 p.m. Dec. 13 at home).

After defeating Waconia and Blake the first week, Delano-Rockford took down Chanhassen 4-1 and Providence Academy 7-5 last week.

Eric Ylitalo netted two goals with two assists against Chanhassen. Adam McLain and Chet Halonen each scored a goal and Grant Prinsen had two assists. Senior goalie Aaron Grangroth yielded just one power play goal.

“Aaron did a real nice job of taking care of the rebounds,” said Brown. “Generally speaking, this we a solid defensive performance for us as we were very good at limiting Chanhassen’s offensive chances throughout the entire game.”

The team was more up and down against Providence, notes Brown. Delano-Rockford started strong taking a 2-0 first period lead. However, PA took over the second period to go up 3-2.

Trailing 4-2 early in the third period Delano-Rockford came back to life to score five goals, three by Eric Ylitalo for a total of four in the game. Hunter Hart, Justin Oja and Levi Peterson also scored. Goalie Brent Norling made 29 saves.

The unbeaten start may be called a surprise after the team lost eight players who earned All-Conference honors from a team that made it to the section semifinals. Breck is the defending section champ.

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