Boys hockey has high expectations for rest of season

Isabel Boedigheimer, Head Copy Editor

Pep talks from the coaches, encouraging words from the captains, blades against the ice and the swoosh of the puck into the net were sounds the boys hockey team heard while warming up before playing Hill-Murray for the first time in regular season play. After a tough loss last year in the section finals against Hill, they were looking to get revenge. They succeeded and crushed the Pioneers 5-2.

Stillwater is the number one seed in sections and Hill is number two, so there is a strong chance they will play one another in the section finals if they each win their first two games as expected. The Ponies are looking to beat Hill once again and make it to the state tournament, which is the most attended high school sporting event in Minnesota.

Junior assistant captain and left wing Noah Cates said, “I believe that they [Hill] will come out hard because they have something to prove now. But if we play the same way that we did the first time, we should be fine.”

Two years ago the Ponies made it to the state tournament, but lost in the first round to Edina. A majority of the current seniors were on the team at the time as sophomores and value the experience it gave them as they battle towards this year’s tournament.

I am extremely confident [about making it to state], we have an amazingly talented group of guys and our bond and chemistry is even better, we have a good chance of doing something special this year.”

— Simon Sagissor

“It [losing] felt pretty bad. It was tough going into our first game against one of the best Edina teams to ever come through their program, but we gave it our best shot which is all that matters,” senior captain and right wing Simon Sagissor said.

This year the boys are turning heads and drawing praise. They are conference champs for the first time in Stillwater boys hockey history with an outstanding record of 20 wins, one loss, one tie and are ranked second in the state.

“This year I believe we have more depth, speed and skill and we also have a different attitude and expect to win every game,” Cates said. “We are hard to play against and our coaches do a great job of making adjustments.”

The boys opened the season with a game against Lakeville North. It was a nerve-racking game considering it was the very first of the new season and it was against last year’s state champions, but the Ponies shocked everyone by beating Lakeville 6-5. Since then they have been motivated to go to state, and according to many of the players, to win state.

Sagissor said, “I am extremely confident [about making it to state], we have an amazingly talented group of guys and our bond and chemistry is even better, we have a good chance of doing something special this year.”

This is head coach Matt Doman’s third year coaching the Ponies. One of his tactics of getting the boys to better themselves and prepare for games is to have them watch film about big plays on great performances, bad plays and mistakes so they can learn and prior games with their upcoming opponents.

Junior defenseman Thomas Bruchu said, “We all show up to the rink about two hours before game time and we get our gear prepared…sometimes coach will have us watch film or just talk about the opponents tendencies. We play the song ‘Pipe It Up’ before going out to warmup.”

How the boys prepare for big games has a large impact on their play. They have pregame rituals, such as playing soccer to loosen up before they have to actually start getting pumped up.

“I think the biggest thing that gets us pumped up is coming into the rink where the atmosphere is intense, that’s when we really start to get hyped up,” junior assistant captain and center forward Luke Manning added.

The only game the Ponies lost this season was in a tournament against Holy Family. It was a bit of a shock considering they had won so many games, but that only drove them to work harder and win next time they played them. They came back strong from that loss and beat Holy Family 3-2 in an intense game last weekend at home on Senior Night.

“When we lost to them we thought we could just show up and beat anyone, but we learned a good lesson that you have to come prepared to play hard no matter who we’re playing,” Bruchu said. “Playing at our home rink makes us stronger because the fans energy motivates us to work hard.”

Even if the Ponies do not make it to state or win state, they have made history this year. No matter where they finish, it will have been a memorable season for players and fans.