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Adapted Floor Hockey: Familiar faces are back in Thunderbolts' convincing win

Justin Neff (center) is pictured celebrating during a game last season. Neff and a host of other returnees from last year's 10-2 team are back with the Thunderbolts this season. (Photo by John Molene)

There were a lot of familiar faces on the floor Wednesday as the South Washington County Thunderbolts opened the floor hockey season with a convincing win.

Playing at East Ridge this season, the Thunderbolts stormed to an easy 13-4 victory over the visiting South Suburban Jets.

South Washington County led 6-2 after two periods and then peppered the net for seven goals in the final 15-minute period.

“We did good,” said South Washington County head coach Jeff Figlmiller. “We’ve got a lot of new players on the team this year but about three-quarters of the people are back. So the newcomers are doing good.”

Returning off last year’s 10-2 team that won the state adapted hockey tournament consolation championship are senior wings Justin Neff and Casey Murnan, junior center Bryce Smith, defenders Elizabeth Schmidt and Nathan Ponder, junior wing Nick Jones and eighth-grade center Tyler Tinucci.

Smith and Tinucci, both prolific scorers in the past, will be two of the main offensive threats for the Thunderbolts again at center wings.

Eighth-grader Carson Rinnels manned the goal in the opener. Rinnels or possibly Smith will be the goalies, likely depending on the game situation.

Smith was named to last season’s CI Division All-Tournament Team.

“This group, I think we can go pretty far,” said Figlmiller. “It’s going to come down to our defense. I’ve definitely got the shooters. It’s going to be our defense and can we protect our goalie.”

As usual, Figlmiller’s game plan Wednesday included giving everyone a chance to play.

“We got everybody in,” said Figlmiller. “I’ve said it before, every game, I get everybody in. It was a little bit wider score today, so I got everybody in for two five-minute periods. I’m very happy about that.”

South Washington County is now idle until a road match at Owatonna Adapted Jan. 18.