2011-12 Winter Preview: Experience-rich Woodbury boys hockey team returning 12 letter-winnersWoodbury head coach Wes Bolin, returning for his 29th season – and eighth for the Royals – said the level of experience his varsity starters bring this year marks a huge difference over last year when the Royals returned only two varsity players.
By: Mike Longaecker, Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury has grown up, and apparently people have been taking notice.
According to Followthepuck.com’s preseason projections, the Royals were ranked No. 15 in the state – ahead of every other team in the Suburban East Conference.
The heady ranking is likely due in part to the Royals’ wealth of experience: Woodbury returns 12 letter winners from last season.
Head coach Wes Bolin, returning for his 29th season – and eighth for the Royals – said the level of experience his varsity starters bring this year marks a huge difference over last year’s season when the Royals returned only two varsity players.
“That’s kind of nice for this year’s group,” he said. “There isn’t going to be any team in the conference that we’re going to be afraid of.”
The Royals look to build on last year’s 13-13 (8-10 SEC) record. Bolin said that might have come as an overachievement in some people’s minds, given that last year’s team took the ice after graduating 16 seniors in 2010.
Woodbury, the No. 5 seed in Section 3AA, lost 3-2 to Hastings in the section quarterfinals, missing semifinal play for the first time in seven seasons.
“We going to prove to people that we’re a little better than that,” Bolin said. “Kids are going to play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder.”
Three of the Royals’ top-five scorers from 2011 return to the ice this year, including last year’s second-leading scorer, Chase Myers-Beck, who finished with 25 points, including 12 goals. Also returning is Woodbury’s top goal-scorer from last season – Evan Erickson – who scored 14 goals in 2010-11.
“I think it’ll be a fun team to watch,” Bolin said.
He said Woodbury won’t put any one “electrifying superstar” on the ice, but will present a strong ensemble cast.
“We think we have relatively decent depth,” he said.
Others likely to light the lamp will be forwards Blake Kelley and Ryan Winter, who finished last season with .77 and .62 point-per game averages, respectively. Defensemen Zach Wahlin and Joey Lindberg also return to the ice, as well as letter-winners Tanner Antolak, Nate Wareham and Tyler Tuneberg.
The Royals opened early-season action last weekend against Coon Rapids. They open conference play Dec. 3 against East Ridge, and face intra-district rival Park on Jan. 14.