Boys hockey team faces season of rebuilding

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Carson Mark

Team captain Spencer Naas looks to be the team’s top scorer in the absence of Grant Besse.

The final horn sounded –– helmets, gloves, and sticks flew high in the air, however they weren’t red. In the corner of Mariucci’s rink, the senior boys for Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey team embraced for one final time, unable to acknowledge the jubilation surrounding them as Wayzata became the 2013 Section 6AA Champions, ultimately snatching away BSM’s chance of going to the X back-to-back years. Spectators looked upon the seniors that dazzled fans and frustrated opposing teams, knowing in the back of their minds that rebuilding had to begin.

Now.

Going into the 2013-2014 season, the Red Knights are facing a number of huge questions after losing eight seniors who made up the first line of forwards, as well as both goaltenders. Last year, most fans would look toward the first line featuring Mr. Hockey Finalists Grant Besse and Dan Labosky to light up the scoreboard, but this year, the captains are looking to refocus the team’s interactions. “This year, it’s about a group effort. You can’t just replace someone like Besse with one guy, so it won’t be a few stars making the headlines – we want it to be the team as a whole. The younger guys will need to step up and fill those shoes and work considerably harder,” senior captain Spencer Naas said.

Though there is considerable talent in this year’s senior class, including captains Johnny Austin and Spencer Naas, the concern still lies at goaltender. Since the absence of exceptional goalie Justin Quale two years ago, the struggle has become finding a dependable and consistent player in the crease. “It’s probably going to be [junior] Jalen Long. He’s really a great goalie, [someone who] has a lot of potential, he just needs that chance to prove himself. He has the talent, [we just] have to prepare him for the big stage,” said Naas.

Fortunately, there are five defensemen returning to aid Long while he adapts to playing at this level. This is surely going to be the strong suit for the Red Knights early in the season as the rest of the team comes together and becomes comfortable stepping into the starting lines.

Looking forward, the Red Knights will start the season off Rochester Lourdes and Duluth Denfeld. “They’re both good single A teams, but if we play how we can, we should be able to take care of them,” said Naas.

A quick start will be important, as BSM will then face Burnsville and rival Hill Murray in the fourth and fifth games, respectively. Though the team will certainly be young this year, the focus on a team effort and the expectation of being underdogs relative to previous seasons offers the potential for yet another promising season out of a perennial powerhouse program.