New Prague’s boys’ hockey program has grown accustomed to winning. It’s still in the process, though, of accomplishing firsts in school history.
The Trojans, under the guidance of coach Chris Lonke, won their first conference championship a year ago. They won the Missota crown with a 12-1-1 mark, and wound up 16-9-2 overall.
With 11 seniors on this year’s roster, expectations once again are high for the Trojans.
“We would like to win our first section championship,” Lonke said. “We’ve never been to the state tournament.”
That’s because Class 1A, Section 1 has been owned by Rochester Lourdes since Lonke arrived at New Prague for the 2008-09 season. The Eagles have won five consecutive section titles.
“Our goal is to always make the section final,” Lonke said. “If you make the section finals, you have a chance to get to the ‘Big Dance.’ ”
The Trojans are 2-1-1 through their first four games, including a 4-3 victory at Lourdes. The Trojans were 0-8-1 in their previous nine games against the Eagles. Their last victory against them came in Lonke’s first year at the school (4-3 on Dec. 9, 2008).
“Hopefully, that will be a good confidence builder for our club,” Lonke said.
Senior forward Austin Kilian netted the game-winning goal against 10th-ranked Rochester Lourdes, on the power play with 15 seconds remaining.
In the season-opener, junior forward Ben Witt scored with one second remaining to give the Trojans a 3-3 tie with Cloquet-Esko-Carlton.
In their only setback of the season, 5-4 to fifth-ranked St. Cloud Cathedral in overtime, junior defenseman Casey Busch scored with eight seconds left to force the extra session.
“We’ve had some interesting games so far,” Lonke said. “We’ve learned to never quit.”
No doubt who is No. 1
Apple Valley’s wrestling team didn’t waste any time proving it’s the team to beat in 2013-14.
The Class 3A top-ranked Eagles opened their season with a 57-9 victory over No. 2 Prior Lake in a South Suburban Conference dual meet Friday night. Apple Valley shared the state championship with St. Michael-Albertville last season.
Apple Valley won the first 11 matches against Prior Lake, and 12 of the 14 on the night.
The biggest surprise came at 152 pounds, where Apple Valley senior Davionte Young topped Prior Lake senior Blake Carlisle 6-4. Carlisle is ranked No. 1 in the weight class.