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Cardinal boys hockey looks to improve consistency

ICE MEN COMETH — Members of the Fairmont Area Cardinal boys hockey team opening the season by traveling to Le Sueur on Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. Big South Conference game against the Minnesota River Bulldogs include, front row (left to right): Noah Bettin, Kegan Roloff, Jase Meade and Logan Madsen. Middle row: Parker Schwandt, Macklain Anderson, Gavin Kester, Carson Johnson, Jace Prindle, Dayton Draper and Luke Kester. Back row: Assistant coach Bart Musser, assistant coach Dave Cone, Barret Scholl, Connor Gronewald, Mathew Cone, Eric Determan, Lucas Sommers, Axel Chapman, Tyler Kurt, Tyson Pankow, head coach Dylan Van Brocklin and assistant coach Tom Havnen. Not pictured: Jace Teveldal, Brandon Hector, Klay Beemer and manager Jadyn Musser. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Area boys hockey season is set to begin Tuesday night when the Cardinals head to Le Sueur to face off against the Minnesota River Bulldogs — a co-operative program between St. Peter and Le Sueur-Henderson.

Coming off a season where the team finished with an 8-19 overall record and an early playoff exit, this year will be about improving its consistency on the ice.

The Cardinals’ attack will be in need of some fresh faces after losing both of last season’s top scorers in Nate Rakness and Brock Lutterman to graduation.

One key point for the team so far in practice has been to get shots on goal as often as possible. Last season, Fairmont Area head coach Dylan Van Brocklin felt a major reason for many of their losses was the disparity in the amount of shots on goal the team had.

With the need for scoring and a less experienced group entering the season, the Cardinals will be looking to captains Luke Kester and Jace Teveldal to help ease the offensive burden.

“We have only had four practices and we’ve had a few guys gone, so it’s kind of hard to tell off of just this last week,” Van Brocklin said. “But we have two captains and an assistant captain this year — the two captains are Jace Teveldal and Luke Kester and then for assistant captain we have Mathew Cone, so it would be nice to see them take control of the team like the seniors did last year because we have got a lot of young guys.”

Last year, Luke Kester scored 15 goals to go with dishing out 11 assists for the Cardinals, while Teveldal ended his junior campaign by netting 11 goals and 10 assists.

Cone contributed two goals to go with four assists last year for Fairmont Area and will look to become a reliable third option this season.

While those three trying to handle a large portion of the workload for the Cardinals, the team must rely on its younger players to gain experience quickly in order to meet their goals this year.

“We have a lot of young guys so it’ll be a little different for them jumping from Bantam to high school, and then some of the first year players last year didn’t get much ice time and they’ll get a lot more time this year so it’ll be nice to see how they do,” Van Brocklin said.

It will be Carson Johnson returning in goal for the Cardinals this season but he won’t be Fairmont Area’s only option in the net.

Johnson is entering the year coming off a season where he had 871 saves and a save rate of 84.5 percent for Fairmont Area and looks to have an even better year this season.

In a sport where most players are subbing in and out constantly, having another goalie will prove beneficial.

“It’ll be nice — especially on those back-to-back nights, the players get all kinds of rest, but that goalie plays all three periods,” Van Brocklin said. “There are no breaks so it will be nice to give them both a chance to get rested up and not be so tired.”

Catch the start of the Fairmont Area Cardinal boys hockey season at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in LeSueur when they take on Minnesota River in a Big South Conference battle on the ice.

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