After graduating 13 players last season, Andover boys’ hockey had a few openings in its lineup.
One game into the season, those varsity newcomers seem to have things figured out after a 7-3 win at Hopkins Nov. 26.
Andover coach Mark Manney said the play was typical of a season opener with plenty of nerves as several players took to the varsity ice for the first time.
“Got a little more comfortable as the game went on and a lot of times the scoreboard will help you with that comfort level,” Manney said, referring to the 5-0 lead Andover built deep into the second period.
Manney said the buzzword for the night was simple.
“Get pucks at the net, keep them to the outside in our end and giddy up and go when you have an opportunity,” he said.
Creating offense off the rush will be something to work on along with taking a shot instead of extra touches, Manney said.
Despite turnovers early, the Huskies led 1-0 just 1:49 into the season on a wrist shot by senior Brad Williams in his first varsity game. Sophomore Brent Sears assisted on the two-on-one scoring chance that shows the mix of ages that will have to come together this season.
“Great start for him. He got us all going and it’s nice to see him burry the puck,” senior captain Tyler Tomberlin said.
Manney played at least one sophomore on each offensive line and the defensive pair of 6 feet, 1 inch freshman Jake Strom with sophomore Dylan Holt.
New varsity netminder Ryan Olson made some big-time stops throughout the contest and helped the Huskies kill off six of seven penalties while posting 32 saves.
“Three goals wasn’t an indication of how well he played,” Manney said. “Maybe a result of how well we played in front of him. He played an excellent game.”
During summer workouts Tomberlin knew the team would have a dynamic one-two punch if all-state goalie Chase Perry remained at Andover for his final season. Perry chose to move on to the junior ranks to open the door for Olson.
“Don’t get me wrong, we all miss him, but Ryan stands his ground, keeps us in games and does his job,” Tomberlin said.
Among the seven Andover penalties were two five-minute majors for boarding in the third period. Hopkins scored twice while Andover was killing off the majors.
“Nobody likes to see penalties in the offensive end. There’s no reason for it,” Manney said.
Andover took 12 minutes of penalties in the offensive end. “Those are the penalties you can’t take,” Manney said. “Good teams are going to kill you.”
Tomberlin, last year’s leading scorer, continued where he left off with a four-point evening with a goal and three assists. He made it 2-0 with a goal 18 seconds into the second period.
Senior Justin Klingl and sophomore Anthony Banack scored 11 seconds apart to make it 4-0 midway through the period. Klingl’s goal came with four seconds left on a power play.
Sophomore top-liner Zach Sitarz scored the first of two goals in the period on the doorstep of the Hopkins goal crease with 4:33 left to make it 5-0.
Look for Sitarz to provide a presence in front of the goal as a power forward who played on the squad as a freshman. “I know what they were going through tonight,” he said, after getting his first varsity chance at Wayzata in the 2012-13 season opener. “They all did a really good job tonight.”
Hopkins’ Jonah Shoemaker-Gagnon broke up the shutout with a shot over the shoulder of Olson with 1:26 left in the middle period.
Sitarz scored his second goal of the game about five feet from the goal, along the red line with 56 seconds left. He lifted the shot into the roof of the goal.
Huskies junior Nick Haller connected on a centering pass near the goal crease 8:23 into the final period to make it 7-2.
Hopkins made it 7-3 with a deceptive shot by Josh Javen that slowly slid along the goal line and between Olson’s legs instead of a hard centering pass.
Jason Olson is at