It looks like Blaine should challenge for another conference title and perhaps a section title, returning several of its key contributors from last season.
Spring Lake Park moved sections and will not have to face St. Thomas Academy or the other Class A powers that made up the section bracket each year.
2012-13 season: 9-7-2 fifth place in NWSC, 12-11-2 overall
Coach: Mark Manney
Returners: Senior captain Tyler Tomberlin (30 points, 19 assists); junior Tyler Vold (18 points, 12 assists); sophomore Zach Sitarz (14 points, 11 assists).
Outlook: The Huskies return Tomberlin, John Chorzempa and JP Gibbs from last season with the addition of sophomores Brent Sears (forward) and Dylan Holt (defense). Former Huskies standout goalkeeper Chase Perry opted to play junior hockey in Washington this season. Look for senior Ryan Olson to take the varsity spot after playing junior varsity the last two seasons. Manney said they wanted Olson to keep playing and develop into a leader. Backing up Olson will be classmate Jake Multer and also played on junior varsity the last two seasons. Andover has three sophomores on the junior varsity team so the stockpile of netminders continues.
2012-13 season: 5-12-1 seventh place in NWSC, 6-21-0 overall
Coach: Todd Manthey (15th season, 22nd overall)
Returners: Senior captains Robbie Goor (5-17-0, 3.60 GAA, .890 saves percentage, 631 saves), Adam Orn (10 points, six assists) and Gavin Putt (four assists); seniors Travis Mashuga (six points, five assists) and Cody Pinewski (six points, three goals); and junior Riley Perry (five assists).
Outlook: Look for Anoka to be a solid defensive team, but it will need forwards to provide the offensive spark to reach double-digit wins. Last year the team scored 38 goals in 26 games, including a double-overtime loss to Champlin Park in the section quarterfinals.
2012-13 season: 16-1-0, first place NWSC, 19-5-1 overall
Coach: Dave Aus (15th season)
Returners: Senior captains Tyler Cline (45 points, 24 goals) and Alex Copa (22 points, 21 assists); seniors Joey Lau (37 points, 23 assists), Brandon Notermann (35 points, 18 assists), Ian Scheid (20 points, 15 assists); Tyler Frischmon (16 points, 10 assists) and Nic Simpson (15 points, 10 assists); junior Easton Brodzinski (six points, five goals); sophomore Luke Notermann (five points, three goals); and senior goalie Bailey Ketola 12-4-1, 2.51 GAA, .888 saves percentage.
Outlook: Aus believes this team has the potential to be the best group he’s coached at Blaine, returning 11 players with at least 13 points from 2012-13. “We are tremendously gifted with speed and have an inordinate amount of depth at forward and defense,” he said. Several Bengals took part in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League this fall including Cline, Copa, Notermann, Scheid and Lau.
2012-13 season: 4-17-4 overall, 2-10-2
Coach: Brandon Mileski (fourth season, 14th overall)
Returners: Senior captain Seth Johnson was the leading scorer, team MVP and all-conference honoree last season, his third with the varsity team. Assistant captains include Tyler Wojciechowski and Zack Havelka. The Cardinals return 13 juniors from the section roster last season, including goalie Zach St. John.
Outlook: Although the Cardinals are still young, their experience from last season should help pay dividends beginning this season with a large junior class. “If a couple of guys take the next step and give us some more offensive depth, we could surprise some people,” Mileski said.
Legacy Christian/Concordia Academy
2012-13 season: 9-4-1, third place Two Rivers Conference, 19-5-2 overall
Coach: Steve Larson (sixth season, 11th overall)
Returners: Seniors Brock Thompson (47 points, 30 goals), Tyler Arenz (35 points, 21 goals) and goalie Tanner Balk (12-5-2, 2.28 GAA, .917 saves percentage).
Outlook: Legacy/Concordia took a big step last season, finishing third in the Two Rivers Conference before bowing out in the Section 5A quarterfinals to Rogers 3-1.
Spring Lake Park
2012-13 season: 6-6-0, fourth place NSC, 13-12-0 overall
Coach: Tom Benson (21st season)
Returners: Senior Pete Sienko (39 points, 30 assists) and goalie JT Hirschi (7-5-0, 3.05 GAA, .890 goals against); juniors Deven Sunell (31 points, 21 assist) and Jacob Nystrom (25 points, 14 assists); sophomores Austen Long (42 points, 23 goals); goalie Aaron Furlano (6-7-0, 2.89 GAA, .882 saves percentage).
Outlook: The Panthers didn’t graduate many from last season and return several key offensive contributors. Spring Lake Park lost the most from the defensive corps, including Nick Heid (24 points, nine assists in 2012-13), but return Noah Bormann and Dusty Aanerud for the final North Suburban Conference season. Heid elected to play for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL this season.
2012-13 season: 10-2-0, second place NSC, 13-12-0 overall
Coach: Tyler Schaff (fourth season, ninth overall)
Returners: Seniors Kyle Wagner (34 points, 18 assists), Ben Falk (18 points, 12 assists); and junior goalie Darion Hanson (16-9-0, 3.48 GAA, .899 saves percentage).
Outlook: St. Francis has many players competing for varsity spots with many underclassmen to fill several roles on the North Suburban Conference runner-ups. The Saints move to the Mississippi 8 Conference this season which means a step up in overall competition, but no more match ups against Totino-Grace or Spring Lake Park. St. Francis will compete with Rogers, St. Michael-Albertville and Buffalo for Mississippi 8 favorites.
Jason Olson is at