Boys Hockey: Hill-Murray looking to take another huge step

Pioneers have one of toughest schedules in the state

Perennial boys hockey power Hill-Murray High School began the 2013-2014 season with one major goal in mind. Well, maybe there is more than one thing on the team’s mind.

If I were a mind reader, I would say the Pioneers want to make their 27th bid to the state boys hockey tournament. And once there, I would say the one goal they may have in mind would be to win one more game than they have won the last two years they were in the tournament.

In 2012 and 2013, Hill-Murray gained the championship Class AA finals only to be denied the coveted No. 1 trophy. Last season the Pioneers lost the title game to Edina, 4-2.

This year it looks pretty good for yet another trip to the Xcel Center come March.

“We have a high level of top and skill guys,” said veteran Hill-Murray head coach Bill Lechner.

“We have skilled people both on offense and defense. Also we have some strong, quality competition for our goaltending position. Additionally, we have some very good, new, young talent to fill in any holes left due to graduation last spring.”

Reading between the lines one should be able to decipher the usually cautious head coach’s comments to say, “We’re going to be a team not to bet against.”

Coach Lechner continued, “Our new, young guys need to get experience to handle the target that is sure to be on our back. Our (high-level) non-conference schedule rivals all schools. We hope that will help the young guys to grow up quickly.”

Leading the Hill-Murray contingent this season are a couple of senior captains -- Josh French and Tyler Funk. Both are experienced forwards.

Assisting coach Lechner is a veteran lineup of coaches who add much-needed consistency to the program.

On the sidelines alongside of Lechner will be defensive coach Pat Schafhauser. Also returning to work with the goaltenders is Tony Ciro.

It didn’t take coach Lechner long to name both defending Classic Suburban Conference (CSC) Hill-Murray and its No. 1 nemesis, St. Thomas Academy, as being top contenders come the sectional playoffs in late February.

The amiable coach also cited Tartan and Mahtomedi as possible candidates for CSC top honors.

He then listed the entire Hill-Murray roster as individuals who could make a difference in the team’s mark at season’s end.

It reads like this. The names and year in school are: Sam Ilgen 12, Patrick Young 11, Frank Seiler 11, Davis Zarembinski 11, Casey Staum 10, Logan Sharp 12, Dusty Krueger 12, Noah Ondrusik 11,Tyler Nowak 11, Zach Mills 11, Lucas Wewerka 12, Josh French 12, Matt Yanchek 12, Jacob Olson 11, Joey Anderson 8, Darby O. Regan 12, Mickey Anderson 8, Tyler Funk 12, Tom Reilly 11, Mitch Slattery 12 and Sean Wendlandt 11.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com.

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