2012-13 Winter Preview: Woodbury boys hockey team looks to rebound in 2012-13Ninth-year Woodbury head hockey coach Wes Bolin is determined to turn things around this winter.
By: Mike Longaecker, edtior, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury’s 2011-12 season couldn’t have started off better.
The Royals boys hockey team jumped out to a 4-0-1 start behind a lineup boasting 10 seniors on its varsity roster. Then something went south.
Woodbury went on to lose 14 of its final 20 games, which included three ties and just three wins. The Royals went from being a ranked team in the preseason to the last-place team in the Suburban East Conference by season’s end.
Ninth-year head hockey coach Wes Bolin is determined to turn things around. He said the mission is clear.
“Bounce back from (a) disappointing last half of the season a year ago,” Bolin said.
He said the team is poised to do just that, citing “great team attitude.”
“Players are excited to surprise opponents,” Bolin said.
This year’s crop includes 12 seniors – half of whom are returning letter-winners Ryan Winter, Ford Pendleton, Jordan Graham, Dan Armstrong and Geno DeMike.
“Obviously, you hope to have a senior group that has character and a hard work ethic,” Bolin said. “We’ve got a solid group of kids.”
He said he knows last year’s forgettable season means some teams will look past his squad. That prospect opens the doors for some head-turning, Bolin said.
“You kind of get pegged in the conference race, so to speak,” he said. “We want to play with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder – show people that Woodbury hockey is competitive and that we play with a lot of character.
“If we do that, we will be very competitive.”
He expected White Bear Lake, Stillwater, Roseville and East Ridge to pose the biggest threats in the conference.
“But yet, where we finished last year, a lot of people might look on us as a win. And we’re hoping to prove that wrong,” Bolin said.
Winter, who is the top returning point-scorer for the Royals, will captain the team with Pendleton and Graham. The 6-foot 3-inch, 235-pound Winter – a bruising forward whose play on the football field has attracted attention from Div. I scouts – was second in scoring with 18 points last year for Woodbury behind 2012 graduate Evan Erickson, who scored 19.
Meanwhile, Glaeser, also a 2012 letter-winner, returns as a junior.
Also returning is defenseman Hayden Shaw, who turned heads last year as a freshman. Bolin noted that Shaw, who scored nine points last season, spent the fall playing in an elite hockey league. He will share top defense duties with senior Alec Albright.
Among the 13 underclassmen on Woodbury’s roster is freshman forward Sasha Choporov, who played on the first line in the Royals’ first game of the 2012-13 season against Shakopee. He went on to score two goals in the Woodbury Thanksgiving Invitational tournament.
Bolin called him “very mature by ninth-grade standards” and noted his physical strength and offensive awareness.
“We’re excited for him,” the coach said.
The Royals will turn to seniors Evan Broadbent and Connor Kwiatkowski for goaltender duties after the departure of 2012 graduate Josh Erickson, who logged the lion’s share of last year’s minutes. Broadbent was the only other goalie to see playing time last season, with 92 minutes in the net.
Bolin said early indications have been positive. A scrimmage two weeks ago in Owatonna went “great,” he said, adding that nine different Woodbury forwards scored and all forwards on the team recorded at least one point. The Royals outshot opponents 102-40 in the scrimmage.
Woodbury opened the regular season last weekend with two wins in the Woodbury Thanksgiving Invitational.
The Royals return to action Thursday, Nov. 29, on their home ice at Bielenberg Sports Center when they take on Eastview. Woodbury takes on White Bear Lake Saturday, Dec. 1, in a road match-up.