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Boys hockey preview: Looking for consistency

Farmington takes to the ice for the first day of practice Monday afternoon at Schmitz-Maki Arena. Fifty-three players reported to the first day of try-outs.

Keith Revels is in his third year as Farmington's head boys hockey coach after coaching the girls program for 12 years. Here are his thoughts heading into the Tigers' 2010-11 season.

Last year, the team started 7-2-1 before stumbling during the first half of the Missota Conference season. What areas need to be improved upon for the team to be more competitive against league opponents?

We did get off to a great start with some key section wins over JM and Mayo and a tie at Owatonna. We landed in a holiday tourney that did not have the best competition but played well and outscored teams 23-6. The start of the new year brought Holy Angels to town and a 13-1 rout.

From that point we seemed to be on our heels and not really playing the way we were capable of. There were times that we almost got back over the hump, let one slip away at Red Wing in 4-3 loss down there and dropped one to them in OT at home. After getting routed at New Prague, 6-0, they came to our place and needed a goal in the final minute to edge us 2-1.

More consistent play and effort is key for us. We want to be playing as close to our potential as possible game in and game out. Regardless of score the effort we put into our game is something under our control. We are going to focus on the things we can control, work hard to build and foster team chemistry, be positive and build confidence in our abilities as a team and individual players.

In the final game of the regular season, the team avenged an earlier 5-2 loss to Northfield with a 4-2 victory over the Raiders. Was that game a snapshot of what the team is capable of if it puts a complete game together?

I think it was. We had a number of conference games that we improved on the second time around. We turned first round losses to second round wins vs. Northfield and Hutchinson. Went from losing 6-0 to New Prague to 2-1, and Red Wing Needed OT to get us the second time. We have some talented players back, a very strong group of seniors. We are very optimistic and hope that the late season improvements we saw, even in the section playoff game vs North is a indicator of what we can achieve as a team this year.

Leading scorers Tyler Grubb and Daniel Handberg are back, but Devin Ingebrigtson, Tylor Bambenek and Andrew Thomas were lost to graduation after combining for 54 points. How do you think the team will be offensively and who else may make an impact this season?

We did lose some scoring punch with those seniors departing, no question. Grubb and Handberg have both shown an ability to accumlate points this past season. A healthy Zak Payne will help in the socring efforts. He was not on skates until the holiday tourney last year and it takes a while to get into playing shape. We hope to see Matt Provost and Kevin Olund add some points to mix. There are a number of other candidates vieing for spots on the top three lines as well.

Who will you look to as defensive leaders?

Without a question, Jake Sorenson. He has been on the blueline for us for what will be his third season this year. He a player that spends a great deal of time in the off season working on getting bigger, stronger and faster. Andrew Peterson moved back to the blueline for us last season and ended up being an every other shift guy for us. Those two are the key guys back there. Quin Eden, Justin Rees, Jake Eldred and Jack Buss are returning defenders with varsity time a year ago as well.

Trevor Zangs ended up getting the majority of the starts last season. How is the goalie competition shaping up this year?

The goalie question is one that will be answered as we go. Trevor was our main guy since late in his freshman year and throughout his sophomore year. Started the last two section games for us.

This season he may be starting our first playoff game as well, but only if we play Lakeville South in the first round. He transfered this summer, not sure what role he will have with them. We did add a staff member with a goaltending background in Dean Weasler, Dean played for SCSU and some ACHL and ECHL time as well. Have Dahl and Moser with varsity experience, Simones with 14 wins as JV tender last year and two newcomres trying out.

Which teams do you expect to be among the leaders in the Missota Conference and in the section?

Well there's Holy Angels at the top of the heap once again. After that I don't know if there's a clear favorite. Chaska and Chanhassen now split. Not sure how their talent was spread over the new team in Chanhassen and former Chaska/Chanhassen combined. We hope to be right in the mix of things.

What are you goals for the program heading into your third year as head coach?

My goals are pretty much what they always have been. Prepare our team to compete as close to the highest level of competency that we can. I want to create an evironment that will provide opportunites to develop and maintain team chemsitry and to value what's best for the team over what's best for the individule.

I want to assist in the development of life skills and values that come from participation in an educationally based athletic program. Things like character, integrity, responsibility, perseverance and the value of hard work and dedication. Just as we ask our players to, the coaching staff is going to focus on the things we can control. How well we prepare our players to compete, execute, and conduct ourselves is what we can control.