Delano-Rockford boys’ hockey having trouble keeping pieces in place

Justin Oja is one of several Delano-Rockford hockey players sidelined by injury this season. The senior captain who is second in scoring recently broke a leg. (Photo by Bill Nord)

Justin Oja is one of several Delano-Rockford hockey players sidelined by injury this season. The senior captain who is second in scoring recently broke a leg. (Photo by Bill Nord)

BY DAVE PEDERSEN

Delano-Rockford boys hockey coach Steve Olson said he is fortunate for the depth of good players as an onslaught of injuries has been the unfortunate story this season.

Most recently two captains have missed multiple games due to injury, Justin Oja (broken leg) and Chet Halonen (concussion).

Also missing significant game/practice time this season are goaltender Brett Norling (broken wrist), defender Daniel Keranen (broken wrist), defender Jeff Linna (broken hand), defender Grant Prinsen, forward Hunter Hart (separated shoulder), forward Jack Nelson (ankle) and forward Brady Miller (thigh/knee).

Despite the misfortune, Delano-Rockford skated to a 6-3 win Saturday in New Ulm. Goals were netted by six different players including Karl Peterson, Reid Ylitalo, Ben Meyers, Adam Escola, Gabe Halonen and Miller. Nelson added two assists and Norling made 13 saves in goal.

“It is our depth that has got us through,” said Brown. “I also credit the player’s ability to stay mentally tough. I have been coaching hockey for many years, and this is by far the most difficult season from an injury perspective. The predominant challenge beyond missing some very good hockey players has been trying to build player-player chemistry on the ice with an ever-changing line-up.”

The team still has a winning record at 6-5-1 even with all the adversity. Meyers has taken over the points lead with seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 12 games. Oja is second with five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in nine games.

Delano-Rockford is home against conference rival Mound-Westonka at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, home against Rochester Lourdes at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 in a non-conference play and is back to league play against Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato at home Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Contact David Petersen at david.petersen@ecm-inc.com

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