2012 finish: 2-7, eight in NWSC, 3-11 overall; lost in Section 4 opener to Hill-Murray 7-6.
Coach: Brad Sundem, second season head coach at Anoka, fifth season coaching.
Return players: Senior captain Dan Horsch returns healthy after being lost for the season last year in a preseason scrimmage injury plus junior captains Branton Fleischman, Shan Weigman and Jake Kocovsky. Tony Fritch and Zach Eenhuis also return as key contributors.
Outlook: Anoka lost six games by one point and two in overtime in addition to graduating more than 20 players from the 2012 roster. For the first time, Anoka has fewer than 75 percent of its roster returning which creates opportunities for new faces to make contributions, but the experience level will need to grow quickly for the Tornadoes to compete in a competitive Northwest Suburban Conference.
2012 finish: 8-1 in NWSC, co-champions with Armstrong, 14-3 overall and section runner-up.
Coach: Josh Swart, sixth season at Blaine. Two new coaches are Matt Faiman and Jon Kell. Faiman was a three-year starter at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and grew up playing the game in Denver, Colo. He will work with both JV and varsity. Kell will work with the ninth- and 10th-grade teams and has an extensive coaching background around Blaine serving as assistant coach for boys’ soccer and hockey for many seasons.
Return players: Blaine returns 15 seniors including captains Mac Nadeau (31 goals, 43 points), Eric Zickermann (leading scorer with 63 points, 43 assists), Tyler Maki and staring goalie Brenden Nadeau (9-2-0, 7.11 goals against, .599 saves percentage). Other varsity experienced players are James Warner, Alex Winecke, Naji El-Araby, Jack Micek, Tyler Cline, Cody Johnson, Zac Sonterre and Jesse Norling.
Outlook: Having come very close to making the state tournament in recent years, Swart hopes this will be the season to break through. “We should understand and respect how difficult it is to get to the state tournament,” he said. “Hopefully it continues as motivation.”
On paper, Blaine appears to be just as strong as in recent seasons. “The difficult part will be for the older guys to remain focused when there are so many distractions for seniors in spring,” Swart said. “As well as the younger guys behind this large group continue to improve and learn so they are ready for their full varsity turn.”
2012 finish: 2-11 overall, lost in first round of section tournament.
Coach: Dale Comer, second year. New assistant coach Tom Maeckelbergh.
Return players: Captains Connor Kirkeide, Erik Svoboda, Ryan Weitgenant and Chad Ziegler.
Outlook: Kirkeide and Ziegler each finished with 17 points, while Svoboda had 18 points (nine goals) and returns as the leading scorer. The Cardinals return Weitgenant as the starting goalie from last season as he posted a 12.87 goals against average and .585 saves percentage in 529 minutes, 36 seconds among 13 games in goal.
Spring Lake Park
2012 finish: 2-4 in the North Suburban Conference; 3-9 overall.
Coach: Jason Kurtz, Jesse Kurtz.
Return players: Senior attacker Sam Faulkner, senior midfielder Skylar Fischer, two-time captain defenseman Corey Swenson and junior midfielder Dusty Aanerud-Voss returns in the middle.
Newcomer: Sophomore midfielder Macabe Stariha.
Outlook: The Panthers return leading scorer and top face-off man in Faulkner with a strong midfielder in Fischer. Both seniors earned all-conference honors and will be looked on to increase the scoring totals this spring under second-year co-coaches Jason and Jesse Kurtz. Even though the Panthers will be young, the experience gained from last spring combined with off-season training will help improve the overall results in 2013. “We have very dedicated players that work hard and that should translate into success on and off the field,” Kurtz said.
Coach: Ken Weikel
Outlook: No information was provided.
Jason Olson is at [email protected]