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2012-13 Winter Preview: East Ridge boys hockey team hopes to build on last season

East Ridge senior Ryan Karrow returns to help lead the Raptors this winter. Karrow had 11 points last season.

With the vast majority of the roster back this season for East Ridge, the expectations have started running high for the boys hockey team.

After an 8-17-2 season and graduating five seniors, the Raptors return four of their top five point scorers and have plenty of experience in big-game situations. Most of the roster has played in the Bantam state tournament as a part of Woodbury youth hockey and that has the team feeling confident.

"Good teams have good senior classes and good senior leaders and also have good, young, talented kids that are coming up in the mix," East Ridge head coach Doug Long said. "I think we have that combination. My senior leaders are fantastic."

The Raptors have nine seniors this season and flexibility to mix and match lines.

Among the key players back this season is Jack Greeley, who finished tied for the team lead in points with 18, along with Ian Penvose. Also, seniors Ryan Karrow recorded 11 points and Devin Donohue had eight goals and an assist. Both are back.

East Ridge graduated top goaltender Andrew McDonough, who went 6-14-2 with a 2.63 goals against average and a .896 save percentage. The Raptors will turn to two juniors to split time in goal.

The Raptors played in 10 one-goal games and went 4-6 in those games. East Ridge also had five two-goal losses.

In a highly competitive section and conference the Raptors will need to find ways to score. That means getting more shots on goal, something East Ridge struggled to do. The Raptors got outshot 644-613 for the regular season and scored just 50 goals on the season. East Ridge was outscored by 21 goals by opponents last season.

Despite the lack of offense, the Raptors delivered a momentum-building upset over Apple Valley in the Section 3AA playoffs last season. Seventh-seeded East Ridge rallied for a 3-2 triple overtime victory to reach the semifinals, but now, with a majority of the roster back, the Raptors want more.

"We definitely built some momentum going into the playoffs last year and we felt like we left some meat on the bone throughout the season," Long said.

The Raptors will have to improve on the power play as well. The power-play unit connected at a 4.8 percent clip in the regular season and the team averaged 2.08 goals per game.

Playing in so many close games last season should help prepare East Ridge for a tough conference schedule. The Suburban East Conference looks balanced this season with no clear favorite heading into the season. Long expects games to be close because of the parity and being able to close out close games will make a difference between a winning and losing season.