The Minnesota River Bulldogs boys hockey team is returning 11 players who saw significant varsity play last year, including two starters.
The Bulldogs bid farewell to eight seniors that were part of last year’s team that went 14-10 in regular season play.
However, the Bulldogs are returning two of its top four scorers from last year. Senior forward Brady Sowder netted 14 goals and had 16 assists last year. Fellow senior forward Logan Throldahl was not far behind, with 10 goals and eight assists.
The Bulldogs are returning six more players who found the net last season. They include Seth Reicks (five goals, four assists), Jake Rimstad (two goals, 10 assists), Brendan O’Keefe (four goals, one assist), Aiden Blaschko (two goals, four assists), and Brooks Reicks (two goals, two assists).
Other returning players who saw varsity action last year include Logan Moe, Mitch Kotek, and Mason Reinhardt.
“We will be looking at younger and older players who are new to varsity to step up and help us right away,” Coach Shea Roehrkasse said. “I am very confident they will be ready to take on that challenge.”
Between varsity and JV, Le Sueur-Henderson is contributing five players to this year’s squad. They include Reinhardt and Ethan Hathaway on varsity and Joe Fixsen, Sam Menne, and Ben Miller on JV.
Roehrkasse said, despite the changes due to COVID-19, his goal for this year’s team is the same as any other year - to be playing their best hockey by the end of the season. His aim is for the Bulldogs to make it to the Rochester Rec Center for the section championship this year.
To do that, they will need to tackle New Ulm, Marshall, and Albert Lea, who Roehrkasse anticipates being their toughest competition.
Roehrkasse believes his team’s speed will be their top asset this year.
“We are hoping we can use that to our advantage and create opportunities using our speed,” Roehrkasse said.
Roehrkasse reported that the first few days of practice have been going well, and his boys are doing a good job following COVID-19 protocols, which include wearing face masks at all times. It has taken some getting used to, but Roehrkasse believes they will have fully adjusted by the time they take the ice for the game this week.
“These boys have been doing a great job. Our youth program has been doing a fantastic job of getting our players ready for high school hockey so all of our players benefit from that development,” Roehrkasse said.
The Bulldogs open play at home against Redwood Valley on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m.