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Marlin boys hockey sets lofty 2018 goals

The Mitchell Marlins boys hockey team has made their season goal clear--be a top-three team in the state. With it returning a senior-heavy lineup, its top goal scorer in Jake Jarman and the addition of Nickolas Robinson, the Marlins, who went 5-1...

Mitchell Marlins forward Jake Jarman (11) makes a move on Sioux Falls' Ryan Dinsmore during a game on Jan. 4 at Mitchell Activity Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Mitchell Marlins forward Jake Jarman (11) makes a move on Sioux Falls' Ryan Dinsmore during a game on Jan. 4 at Mitchell Activity Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)

The Mitchell Marlins boys hockey team has made their season goal clear-be a top-three team in the state.

With it returning a senior-heavy lineup, its top goal scorer in Jake Jarman and the addition of Nickolas Robinson, the Marlins, who went 5-11-2 and lost both state tournament games last season, don't expect to be near the bottom of the standings much longer.

"I know these kids are hungry to succeed and prove otherwise to the association and state that they can compete at a higher level and get that title," first-year Marlin head coach Josh Engquist said.

That said, it has a tough couple of games to open the season with an 8 p.m. showdown today at Watertown, followed by a game at Brookings on Sunday. Watertown finished right above Mitchell in the standings last season, while Brookings finished where the Marlins strive to be-third.

Heading into the season, Engquist said his team has been working on team-chemistry drills after adding Robinson, who played in Sioux Falls last year, to its second line.

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The Marlins are also working on spacing to create more goal opportunities, as Engquist thinks finding offensive momentum will be a key to early-season success.

"You want to set the tone right away, get the offense going, get some goals in," Engquist said. "Hopefully it's a domino effect from there."

The Marlins will look for more goals from Jarman, who netted 25 last year and will man the first line alongside Austin Kerr (8 goals, 19 assists) and Peyton Nash (5 goals). However, his presence on the ice will also create more open looks for teammates, with opposing teams keying on stopping him.

That will create opportunities for players on the second line, too, which includes Robinson, Derrick Goldammer and Drew Kitchens (6 goals, 6 assists).

"Guys like that need to step up, it's that simple," Engquist said. "If we can't handle (Jarman) getting pressured then it's not going to be the way we want to go the rest of the year."

Potential impact players go beyond the first two lines, though. Engquist said the returning depth allows him to play up to four lines depending on the game. Mitchell's third line includes: Max Dailey, Nicholas Lord and Eric Biggerstaff.

Despite the Marlins' depth, it enters the season without a clear answer in net. Zachary Mohr and Nathan Zimmerman are neck-and-neck, and Engquist envisions them splitting time until one "takes charge."

To reach Mitchell's team goal, Engquist said it starts with positive coaching that also pushes his players to the limit with tough practices. Because Engquist certainly believes his team has the talent to make a run at a state title.

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"Obviously these last couple of years haven't gone the way they wanted it to, and (the seniors) want to make something special out of this senior year," he said. "I think they took it to heart and focusing on keeping that goal a reality."

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