by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
After a difficult 2012-13 season in which they managed just three wins, the Osseo High School hockey boys are looking for substantial improvement in 2013-14.
If experience translates directly into better results, the Orioles should be improved because they return most of the team from last year.
“We return 15 in total with at least some varsity experience,” said Kevin Willey, who is co-coaching with Mark Phenow. “We were extremely young last year. We knew there would be some growing pains. A lot of the boys had great summers in the weight room, putting on a lot of muscle.”
Key returners include all-conference forward Mason Hautala, senior captains/defensemen AJ Lyons and Austin Ledin and senior goalie Connor Dahlberg.
“Mason led us in scoring last year and AJ and Austin are both solid defensemen and good leaders,” Willey said. “Connor started 17 games the previous couple seasons. He has grown a ton both physically (now 6’0”was 5’6” as a sophomore) and as a goaltender.”
Hautala teams up with juniors Logan Olson and Rudy Alexander on the first line, seniors Seth Younkers and Jared Vance and junior Ben Christofferson form the second line and juniors Josh Stromberg and Chase Funfar and senior Jacob Lange skate on the third unit.
Lyons and Ledin are paired up on defense. Other defensemen are senior Tyler Stroh, junior Zach Heiser, sophomores Cmaeron Perna and Boone Almquist.
“We are very balanced top to bottom,” Willey said. “We have a great mix of players with eight seniors, seven juniors and three sophomores. Everyone is very team oriented and isn’t afraid to make the extra pass or block a shot for the good of the team.”
One area the Orioles have to improve on if they are to win more games is their scoring.
“We had a tough time scoring goals last year,” Willey said. “We need to be able to overcome and bounce back from a rough year last year.”
The Orioles opened the season with a 4-4 tie against Buffalo. Hautala scored two goals and Younkers and Vance each netted once. They visited fifth-ranked Eden Prairie in the second game and lost 6-0. Osseo could generate little against the big and speedy Eagles and were outshot 49-18.
The going won’t get any easier as the Orioles next host second-ranked Blaine Thursday, Dec. 5.
Contact Bob San at [email protected]