Woodbury youth hockey: 'A' Bantams finish second in stateThe Woodbury “A” Bantams once again proved to be one of the best youth hockey teams in the state, as it defended its state championship title from a year ago at the Minnesota Hockey “A” Bantam state tournament, held March 18 to 20 at Memorial Arena in Virginia, Minn.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, Woodbury Bulletin
The Woodbury “A” Bantams once again proved to be one of the best youth hockey teams in the state, as it defended its state championship title from a year ago at the Minnesota Hockey “A” Bantam state tournament, held March 18 to 20 at Memorial Arena in Virginia, Minn.
Woodbury finished second in the state this year, falling 4-3 to fellow powerhouse Eden Prairie 4-3 in double overtime in this year’s state championship game on Sunday, March 20.
“It was a very exciting game,” Woodbury assistant coach Dan Engesser said. “There was absolutely no doubt that the two best teams in the state were on the ice on Sunday. Both teams laid it out on the line. It was a very well-played game.”
Last year’s Woodbury “A” Bantams won the first state title in the history of the program by claiming Minnesota Hockey state title with a 2-1 win over Grand Rapids. Woodbury returned three players from last year’s state championship team.
Engesser said all the boys on this year’s team were disappointed they couldn’t pull off a repeat, but that they should be very proud of what they accomplished.
“To get where they got to was a big deal,” Engesser said. “I’m sure it stings a little now, but I think they’re going to look back in a couple of weeks and be proud of what they accomplished. It was a great season and a great group of kids. They worked extremely hard to get to where they did.”
At state, Woodbury defeated East Grand Forks 4-3 in the opening round on Friday, March 18, then beat Elk River 1-0 on Saturday, March 18, in the state semifinals.
Engesser, head coach Bo Nickloff and assistant coach Ryan Helgason have been coaching together for three years, beginning with the majority of players from this year’s state runner-up as “A” PeeWees.
Woodbury finished with a 44-10-8 record, playing many of the top teams in the state. Woodbury advanced to state by winning nine games in a row through the District and Regional playoffs by compiling a combined 35 goals while only allowing nine goals against.
“All the boys really came together as a team of 17,” Engesser said. “There wasn’t one or two individuals, it was really a team effort to get to where we got. I can’t really say enough about how they played as a single unit working together.”