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Boys hockey prepares for bounce back season

December 13, 2017

Whether it’s with a stick or with a barbell, the boys hockey team has been working to prepare for a strong season.

Last year, the boys struggled with Lake Conference competition. Johnny Kahner, senior, captain, believes the team can capitalize on the return of goaltender Bobby Wilson, senior.

Wilson broke his collarbone in a game against Duluth East last year. Wilson was shocked when the doctor gave him the news that he would be out for four months.

“The doctor showed me the X-Ray and it was a complete fracture,” Wilson said. “The doctor also said I wouldn’t be back this year and that upset me. It almost felt like I let the boys down. From that moment, I knew I needed to work super hard, so I could get back to 100 percent.”

Kahner praised Wilson’s importance to the team.

“Having Bob back as the tendy [goaltender] will help us battle with teams like Eden Prairie and Edina,” Kahner said. “I know how hard he had to work to get back. It’s good to see him back on the ice.”

Indeed it did help as the royals won their first game of the season against the Woodbury Royals by a score of 2-1. Wilson was a huge help to the royals as he saved 24 of 25 shots. He credits his defense for not allowing good scoring chances

“The defense were doing a really good job to take away the middle and shield the good angled shots,” Wilson said. “They were giving their all the whole game.”

Although the Royals allowed the first goal, winger Sam Haberman, junior, took advantage of a power play and netted the Royals first goal of the season.

Henry Sweeney, junior forward, elaborated on how the team has been working to improve both power play units.

“We have two different styles of power play, an overload and an umbrella which have been effective in practice so far,” Sweeney said.

The Royals struck again late in the third period as Mario Hadley, junior defenseman, came up huge on yet another power play with a post-in game winner.

Hadley credited Kahner and right winger Tom Gazich, sophomore, for setting up for the snipe.

“I was on the ice when the initial penalty happened and I knew late in the game coach would want me out there because of my shot. Before the whistle blew, Staack [defenseman Connor Staack, senior] told me that I was gonna score the game-winner. I thought he was joking,” Hadley said. “I saw Gazzi [Gazich] going down the right side and when he crossed the blue I called for the puck. I then stepped to the left and burned the winger and ripped one left post and in.”

Indeed Hadley what Staack said as the Royals picked up their first win of the season in clutch fashion.

“Starting off the season like that makes me really optimistic of how this team can really turn heads,” Hadley said. “We proved that we can make big plays when it counts most.”

In recent weeks, the team has struggled against some tough opponents. The Royals have fallen in their last five games. Kahner said the team has been struggling with backdoor coverage.

“We’re getting out of position a lot,” Kahner said. “We’re not playing as confidently as we should. We gotta figure out how to transfer our hard work from practice to games.”

Another problem the Royals are facing is getting off to slow starts. On Dec. 5, the Royals let up five goals in the first period and only let up one for the remainder of the game. Also, on Nov. 28, the Royals surrendered four goals in the first period while only giving up one more for the rest of the game.

The Royals look to get things cooking as they travel to Rochester this weekend to take on Rochester Century and Rochester Lourdes.

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