The Pine City Area Boys Hockey team is getting ready for another season. The Dragons start the season off on Friday in Marshall for the Marshall Tournament. The Dragons will see Fargo Davies in the first game of the year and then either Marshall or Breck for the second game.
Pine City is coming off another successful season where they finished 20-5 and won their third straight conference championship. And while the 20 wins and conference championship are both great accolades, the Dragons feel like they came up short last season losing in the section semifinal against North Branch.
The Dragons will look this year to their defensive core to try to get them to the Xcel Energy Center at the end of the year. Pine City lost over 50% of their scoring from last season to graduation and foreign exchange student Jan Zahradka went back home to the Czech Republic. But Pine City knows that it will be a tough team to score against as they return 3 defensive starters led by junior Dusty Bergstrom. Between the pipes, Alex Laven will look to have a strong junior season. Laven only got better as the season went along last year and boasted a 91% save percentage and 2.15 goals against average. He will have to be tough this season in order for Pine City to make a deep playoff run.
Pine City will be a big favorite to repeat in the conference for the fourth straight year and should be in the top three of the section when the dust settles at the end of the year, but the biggest goal for the team is getting past the section semifinal and into the section final then the State Championship.
Pine City Hockey Preview with Grant Nicoll:
What are you most excited for this year?
To see the boys compete. They are ready for the season and we have very high hopes for this year.
How is the roster shaping up? Do you have a lot of new players? Are you returning
a lot of players? Younger? Older? Etc.
We return 14 letter winners from last year. We also have many bubble kids from last year that have made great improvements and will contribute at the varsity level. We bring in many new players, and some of those will have an impact right away for us as well. We have 36 total skaters this season.
Who are a couple athletes that will stand out?
We have many athletes that will stand out. We return our two starting goalies. We return 6 varsity defensemen, and 6-8 varsity forwards from last year. As far as scoring goes we return two of our top four point getters from last year in Dusty Bergstrom and George Miller.
What are your goals?
Our goals as a team are to win the conference again as well as get past the section semi-finals and into the state tournament.
Favorite upcoming games, matches, or meets?
We start the year with a very tough schedule. We open with Fargo Davies who is a past state champion of ND. Also in that tournament is Breck and Marshall who are favored to win their sections. After the tourney we take on conference foe St. Paul Highland Park and then section foe Monticello. We need to start strong right out of the gate.