Young Marlins boys' hockey team looks to defend state championshipThe Mitchell Marlin boys’ varsity hockey team has a target on its back after winning last year’s state title.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
The Mitchell Marlin boys’ varsity hockey team has a target on its back after winning last year’s state title.
“Any time a team wins a state title, they’re painted,” varsity head coach John Lord said. “We know everybody wants to beat us, and there’s nothing better than taking out the previous championship team early in the season.”
With that said, the Marlins’ roster has flip-flopped from last year, putting all sophomores and juniors on the ice. This year’s group has zero seniors.
The team lost Taylor Herrick, Austin Loes, Karl Hellstrom and Skyler Stahl to graduation, and Spencer Lawrence, a senior, chose to play with the Aberdeen Wings, a North American Hockey League team, in his final high school season.
Juniors Mitch Berens, Ben Hogan, Alex Thill, Niko Arnold, Weston Gauger and Cole Carlson return to the squad.
Lord, who is in his fourth season with the Marlins, said the veteran group excelled quickly last season.
“With the veterans last year, we were able to talk about more strategies and others were able to follow suit,” he said. “This year we only have half the team back, so we’re doing a lot of teaching.”
Newcomers for the Marlins are sophomores Jordan Grosdidier, Dustin Hughes, Jacob Cersosimo, Jacob Rice, Kaleb Niehoff, Alex Murtha, Cole Koons and Tate Sutherland, who broke his foot a week ago and will be out for eight weeks.
The group of sophomores won the state Bantam A title last season. Typically, Bantam players move to the junior varsity team and few would be fortunate to move to the varsity level. However, because of the low numbers in the high school age groups, all of last season’s Bantam players were upgraded to the varsity team.
Although the new Marlin mix is made up of state championship players, the pace and flow of the team has to reach higher levels.
“We need to speed up our reaction time; that’s the biggest problem we have right now,” Lord said. “We are progressing well, but I don’t think we are where we were last year.”
Despite the necessity to clean up the basics, Lord said the group has a lot of potential to improve and like every coach, has set his sights on defending the state title.
“We have some very talented skaters,” he said. “This is one of the hardest working groups that we’ve had. Their work ethic is definitely there, and we’re going to try to develop them as best we can throughout the year.”
The Marlins’ first test of the regular season is against the Huron All Stars. The teams are set to clash at 7 p.m. Friday in Huron.