With plenty of holes to fill to start the 2012-13 season, the Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey team kept plugging them, but injuries to their more seasoned players kept creating more.
But the Lakers persevered and did exactly what DL head coach Chris Denardo wanted them to do – improve.
“With all the inexperienced and younger players we had coming in, I was hoping for 13 to 14 wins,” Denardo said. “We lost a couple of games we should have won, but finishing with 11 wins wasn’t too bad, because by the end of the season, everyone was on the same page.”
With basically an entire new defensive unit, sophomore goalie MacKenzie Steele had a little more pressure on him in his second year of starting. He played every minute of the season and finished with an 11-14-1 record.
Steele also had an 85.3 save percentage, after saving 708 out of 830 shots fired at him.
“Mack struggled at times during the season and it was more of a mental thing than anything,” Denardo said. “But by the end of the season, he really bounced back well.”
Junior defenseman Michael Herrmann and senior Isaac Fondrick brought back the most experience on that side of the ice, while junior Dylan Bremseth and a few other younger skaters filled in their roles well.
“We knew the defense was going to be our challenge,” Denardo said. “We had a lot of young skaters to rely on. Against the fast and quicker teams, we struggled.”
The Laker’s attack was led by first-liner senior forward Austin Rusness, who collected 44 points with 15 goals and 29 assists.
Sophomore forward Ryan DeConcini took the first part of the schedule to adjust to the varsity game, but once he did, his game took off.
“In the first seven to eight games, Ryan had something like five or six points,” Denardo said. “But in his last 15 games, he had 25 points and his game doubly improved. He was doing the little things of hockey right and really broke out towards the end there.”
DeConcini had 15 goals and 14 assists on the season, while linemate senior Connor Collins had the third most points with 17 with six goals and 11 assists.
But as the season progressed, the Lakers were hit with several key injuries to senior forward Taylor Magnuson, who was lost for the last quarter of the schedule and junior center Brandon Olson.
Those holes had to be filled by younger players such as junior Casey Paskey and sophomore Joe Solberg.
“We also had our toughest schedule since I’ve been coaching, which you need if you want to compete in Section 8,” Denardo said.
The Lakers will graduate six seniors, the majority of them forwards.
“We will take a hit at our forward position for next year, in which we have a few good young players coming up to help fill,” Denardo said. “I’m hoping our defense and goaltending will be a strength will all the experience they gained this year.”
The 2012-13 Detroit Lakes boys’ hockey final results – Record: 11-14-1
Lakers 23 26 24 0 – 73
Opponents 38 39 45 1 - 123
Scoring (G-A-Pts) – Austin Rusness 15-29-44; Ryan DeConcini 15-14-29; Connor Collins 6-11-17; Taylor Magnuson 7-7-14; Michael Herrmann 6-8-14; Jonathan Hallisey 3-9-12; Kyle Herrmann 6-5-11; Taylor Johnson 4-4-8; Brady Crawford 1-4-5; Isaac Fondrick 0-5-5; Dylan Bremseth 2-3-5; Joe Solberg 1-4-5; Jacob Fritz 3-1-4; Casey Paskey 0-3-3; Brandon Olson 1-1-2; Dahlen Olson 1-1-2; Ben Nelson 0-2-2; Sam Velde 1-1-2; MacKenzie Steele 0-2-2; Sam Bergren 1-0-1.
Goalie stats (W-L-T-SOG-SV-GA-SV%): M. Steele 10-14-1-830-708-122-.853.