BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Coach Steve Brown did not have much to complain about after his Delano-Rockford boys hockey team started the season 2-0, outscoring opponents 9-0.
The team not only hopes to continue where it left off last season by reaching the Section 2A title game before losing to Breck, but to take the next step and advance to state.
“This team will play a very demanding regular season schedule, which we hope will further prepare us to compete for the Wright County Conference and section titles,” says Brown. “This is a veteran team with significant varsity hockey experience. We are excited about the depth we have throughout the line-up.”
So far so good as Delano-Rockford posted shutouts in the first two games, sparked by the play of junior Tyler Rizzardi, who was expected to be the backup net minder until Brett Norling broke his thumb in football and is out for six to eight weeks.
Rizzardi, who did well as the junior varsity goalie last season, stopped 28 shots in the 4-0 win over Blake Friday. He stopped 25 shots in the 5-0 shutout against Providence Academy Saturday.
The balanced offensive attack had seven different players account for the nine goals and nobody scoring more than two in a game. Against Blake goals were netted by Nick Pogue, Lars Halonen, Dan Keranen and Grant Prinsen. Justin Oja and Ben Meyers both had two assists.
Delano-Rockford had five different scorers against Providence Academy, including Brady Miller, Lars and Chet Halonen, Prinsen and Adam Eskola, who added two assists along with Prinsen.
Last year the team finished 16-11-1 overall, 7-4-1 in league play. Six players were lost to graduation. Captains are Oja, Prinsen and Chet Halonen. Oja and Prinsen are the top returning point getters.
Returning forwards are Jack Nelson, Pogue, Miller, Hunter Hart, Eskola, Steven Lewis and Reid Ylitalo. Defenders are Keranen, Lars Halonen, Nate Meyers and Oja. Ninth-grade forward Ben Meyers and junior defender Jeff Linna are newcomers.
“This is physically a big team that is able to get up and down the ice quickly,” notes Brown. “We are optimistic that the combination of size and speed will benefit us as we work our way through a demanding regular season schedule.”
The next game is 7:15 p.m. Dec. 5 Victoria Arena against Chanhassen.
The Delano/Rockford/Buffalo girls hockey team scored early and often in a 10-2 win over Cambridge/Isanti last week to go 2-0 on the season.
The top line continues to score goals as ninth-grade forward Taylor Thompson scored the first two goals for the Bison. Linemates also had big games with center Abby Halluska scoring four goals with two assists and Lindsay Roethke added two goals and five assists. Rylan Bistodeau and Ashley Effertz also scored.
Kendra Carlson got the win in goal stopping 14 of 15 shots in the first two periods and eighth-grader Karly Schmidt saved four of the five shots she faced in the third period.
The Bison are home against South St. Paul, 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 at Buffalo Arena.