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Boys hockey: Experience a strength for Tigers this season

The Farmington boys hockey team made big strides last winter, improving its win total by six games to finish at .500 (13-13-1) for just the second time in the last seven years.

With 15 players back from that squad, head coach Keith Revels is hopeful his program will continue to be one on the rise this season. He liked what he saw from the Tigers last weekend when they beat Hibbing (3-2), Virginia (3-0) and International Falls (10-0) in a series of varsity scrimmages in Virginia, Minn.

“I am excited about what we have seen so far from this team. I am confident we will compete at a high level in the conference and section,” Revels said. “We have a deep group of returning varsity players and talented newcomers pushing for playing time…. Five of our six defenders are back, there’s lots of scoring potential returning and we have two goaltenders with varsity time in previous seasons.”

Returning defensive players Devin Bernu, Erik Holmstrom, Corey Rudrud, Alex Aubrecht and Benton Olson helped the Tigers allow just two goals in three games in Virginia. Newcomer Tyler Jette is another defensive player who could see ice time in front of returning goaltenders Gage Overby (6-6, 299 saves) and Nick Schoening (1-3, 68 saves).

Eight players return at the forward spots, including Jack Erickson, who led the team with 14 goals and also had 14 assists last season. Justin Novak also returns after a sophomore season where he scored 11 goals and dished out a team-leading 19 assists. Dallas Tucker (8 goals, 10 assists) Tanner Grubb (9 goals, 4 assists), Grady Hauswirth, Landon Nielson, John Siebenaler and Chris Fitzgibbons are also back in the fold.

Forwards Austin Martinsen, Jake Trippel, Matt Olund, Cooper Zimmer and Wyatt Jensen are among the new players vying for varsity time.

Improved offensive production will likely be key for the Tigers if they’re going to improve on last year’s win total. They finished just 4-7 in one-goal games and averaged just over two goals per game in their eight Missota Conference losses.

“We had some difficulties finishing last year at times. We had difficulty closing out teams late in games and lost a number of tight contests,” Revels said. “(Our keys to success) will be converting opportunities and putting teams away when we have them on the ropes.”

The Tigers open the regular season tonight when they take on Rochester John Marshall at Schmitz-Maki Arena. The puck drops at 7:15.