Boys’ hockey hopes experience will get them through to State

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Photo courtesy of Mark Lex

The boys’ hockey team hopes this will finally be the year their skill and dedication push them through to the State Tournament.

Matt Muenzberg, Sports Editor

“We’re sick of it,” said boys’ hockey head coach, Mr. Ken Pauly.

For the last three years, his team has been ranked among the top in the state, and for the last three years, they’ve been bounced in the section semifinals. This season, ranked second in pre-season polls, they have a chance to buck that trend and make a run at the state title.

Senior co-captains Christian Horn and Jake Horton and junior assistant captains Daniel Labosky and Tj Moore have ten years of combined varsity experience. This, along with some top-level underclassmen, make this the most state-ready team in BSM history. “I think this is the deepest, most talented group that we’ve had,” said Mr. Pauly.

That experience comes from upperclassmen sticking with the program. Forward Christian Horn even turned down the opportunity to play for Team USA’s development team in Ann Arbor, MI in order to play out his high school career.

“I was 15 years old at the time, turning 16. I knew it was a great opportunity for me but I also knew it was a great opportunity to be at BSM and live out my high school days,” said Horn. “I really liked how, at BSM, we get to do a lot of the same things that Team USA does to be honest. And I was home.”

The other co-captain, defenseman Jake Horton, was listed on MN Hockey Hub’s pre-season all-state team. With varsity experience dating back to his freshman year, Horton knows the importance of a leader on a young team. “Being a leader means a lot to me. I know that the team looks up to me and expects a lot from me,” said Horton.

The two assistant captains, Labosky and Moore, both forwards, exploded for 40 and 33 points respectively after being role-players freshman year. It’s no surprise that they both saw a boost in scoring at the same time. Growing up, Moore and Labosky played together for Edina’s youth program. That experience, along with many years of practices and games together, has helped them as linemates at BSM.

“We have developed a chemistry in that we know where the other is, and we can find one another,” said Labosky. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we have learned to use that to our advantage.”

Two aspects of this team might over shadow the rest this season: goaltending and special teams play.

Last season, junior Justin Quale and senior Anders Jecha split time between the pipes. With save percentages above .900, both made plenty of solid saves, but both also had off nights.

Quale will be out for the start of the season, leaving Jecha with the starting job. “Anders was pretty much our number one goalie throughout most of the season last year, so he certainly has proven that, and now, he has an opportunity early on to play the lion’s share of the games, so that [whether or not he will stay the number one goalie] will be up to him,” said Mr. Pauly.

Highlighting the special team’s aspect, the power play last year started slow, but finished around 35%. This was sparked by Mr. Pauly’s decision to move Horton to the front of the net and to put Horn at the point. “We have more options this year, but building around Christian Horn up on top and then Horts down low. I think those two will be lynch-pins for us,” said Mr. Pauly.

Horn is confident that the power play can be even better this season. “Our power play works when we move the puck. We have way too many skilled guys not to have the best power play in the state. When we move the puck and pass to forehands, it will all work out,” said Horn.

With the loss of Patrick Daly (‘11), senior defenseman and Hill-Murray transfer Jonah Johnson has some big skates to fill. Nonetheless, Johnson is confident he can adjust his game to help his new team. “My game can vary. I can be an offensive defenseman or I can be a stay at home D. It all depends on what kind of role I need to play for the team,” said Johnson.

Sophomore defenseman Jack Glover will miss two weeks of the season playing with the Team USA Under 16 team for a tournament in Austria. Glover won’t be the only Red Knight with Team USA experience—both Horn and Labosky have worn the red, white, and blue. “It was a great honor to represent my country and play with some of the best players from around the world,” said Labosky.

Although the loss of a solid defenseman might seem detrimental, Mr. Pauly is more focused on how it will help the team in the long run. “During those two weeks, it will give somebody else an opportunity. If you’re going to play at the top level, you’re going to have to develop your depth, and it gives us an opportunity to develop that,” said Mr. Pauly.

With all this upside, one would think students should start buying tickets at the X, but the rest of BSM’s section has other plans. BSM’s rivals to the west are ranked number three and also play in the same section. “Minnetonka feels the same way about their team as well. They’re pretty stacked,” said Mr. Pauly.

As for Horn and Horton, they don’t care how good the Skippers are. “We’re tired of losing it [in the section semifinals]. Three games is three too many times to lose in the semifinals when we are strong enough as a team to be moving on. It’s my last year. I don’t care what it takes to get out of our section,” said Horn.