The Mitchell Marlins boys hockey team is young, so this season the focus is set on learning the system and getting an inexperienced bunch playing time.
Nicholas Lord and Eric Biggerstaff are the Marlins’ only seniors, as they and six juniors try to help mesh the younger and older players into the system. Mitchell went 5-13-2 a season ago.
“We have a lot of inexperienced kids coming up, so we try to mold them,” Mitchell coach Bill Hamilton said. “The veterans step in and try to teach them, as well. Just trying to get these kids to adapt to the system we’re trying to run. That’s the main thing, trying to put the effort in to learn the new system.”
There will be a learning curve this year, which saw the Marlins drop their first two games this weekend. Mitchell fell 10-0 to Watertown on Saturday, and then lost 10-2 to Sioux Falls on Sunday. Biggerstaff and Mick Dailey both scored for the Marlins against Sioux Falls.
The Marlins host Rushmore at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mitchell Activities Center.
“We’re young. We got a lot of work ahead of us after this weekend,” Hamilton said. “We got a lot of effort out of the kids. That’s what we ask for -- they come out and work as hard as they can.”
Dailey, a freshman forward, is one of multiple underclassmen Hamilton highlighted as players who should see significant time on the ice this season. Forward Tyson Sabers and defenseman Nathan McCormick are both freshmen and starting goalie Drake Jerke is entering his sophomore season. Jerke saved 43 shots over the weekend.
“We don’t got a lot of players, so hard work is the biggest thing,” Hamilton said. “Trying to get some chemistry between the lines. Bringing a new group of kids in and trying to fit them in with kids who have been here. Getting some chemistry will be important.”
Despite its youth, Mitchell still returns production from last year’s team.
Biggerstaff had 12 goals and seven assists, which are both the most among returning players. Lord scored twice and assisted on four goals, while Josh Grosdidier added two goals and two assists last season, as well. Ashton Reimnitz had three assists.
When asked about expectations, Hamilton of course wants to win during Mitchell’s 20-game slate. But it’s also about building a foundation for the future.
“We just want kids to learn the system, put in the time. They’ll get playing time,” Hamilton said. “Win as many games as we can.”