2013-14 Winter Preview: Young Woodbury boys hockey team's hope for health, to get out of the cellar in new start
A healthy Woodbury Royals team could make big strides on the ice this season.
“When you have that many injuries, you never know what your team is fully capable of,” Royals coach Wes Bolin said. “Everybody kind of has to deal with that. Hopefully, we have enough depth throughout the year to overcome any challenges like that.”
Youth could boost the Royals with depth as they have nine sophomores and freshmen on the team. The Royals also have experience with six seniors and five juniors.
“We have a pretty good group, and they’re working extremely hard,” Bolin said.
Finding goals from a variety of players will be critical offensively for the Royals. Their top-two returning goal scorers had 15 goals combined. Sophomore forward Sasha Choporov had nine goals in 26 games last season as a freshman. Senior forward Jack Glaeser had five goals, but he did so in 15 games played last season.
Defensively, the Royals have strong leadership from senior defensemen Mark Dornfeld and Seth Winger. That leadership will help the rest of the defense, which has three sophomores and a junior.
“They look solid early in the year,” Bolin said of Dornfeld and Winger.
Junior goalie Austen Macalus returns, and he had a .904 save percentage in three games last season. The Royals also have junior goalie Zach Gartner in net.
Health and depth could help put an end to a two-year streak of finishing at the bottom of the Suburban East Conference. The Royals went 6-17-3 overall and 1-14-3 in the SEC last season.
“We’ve got a brand new team, and most people have us picked in last again,” Bolin said. “We’re out to prove people wrong. Hopefully, that’s what happens.”
This team has a truly new look with 11 seniors graduated from last season and eight letter winners back. Junior defenseman Hayden Shaw also left the Royals since he opted to play junior hockey in Waterloo, Ia.
The Royals scrimmaged with other teams during their second week of practice. Bolin said Gartner and Macalus both looked solid in net.
The SEC will have its usual challenges for the Royals with both depth and parity in the conference. Section 3AA also just became a lot more challenge for the Royals and everyone else with the addition of three-time state champion St. Thomas Academy. The Cadets made the move up from Class A after their third-straight state title run.
The Royals tested their mettle right away in their season opener at White Bear Lake, a SEC contender and highly-ranked team in the state, on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Bears also have one of the top forwards in the state with Jake Whalin.
“That’s one of the toughest games we’ll have all year,” Bolin said.
The Royals will face Chisago Lakes and Shakopee during the
Thanksgiving break in non-conference play. Mid-December will bring a challenging slate of SEC games with Forest Lake on Dec. 7, WBL on Dec. 14 and Cretin-Derham Hall on Dec. 19. The Royals will also take on Hastings (Dec. 26) and Apple Valley (Jan. 2) during the Christmas