With the 2020-21 season still months out, it’s time to take a look at teams from all over the State of Hockey and examine what happened this past season and what’s ahead. The next team we’re breaking down is Minnesota River.
How last season went
The Bulldogs were riding a high of sorts after making the 2019 Class 1A state tournament. However, that excitement quickly dissipated as Minnesota River lost five consecutive contests to open the season.
However, the Bulldogs didn’t let the slow start hinder their season. Minnesota River went on a 14-5 run the rest of the way that included wins against Windom, Worthington and Luverne. The Bulldogs ended up with a 14-10 regular season record and a second place finish in the Big South.
Looking to defend their section crown, they opened play against Mankato East. Minnesota River could not replicate last season’s section magic as it fell to Mankato East, which went on its own Cinderella run to the state tournament.
Who’s back and who’s gone
Up front, the Bulldogs relied upon seniors to pick up the slack offensively. That included Shawn Lehtinen and Charlie Weick. This senior duo led the team with a combined 34 goals and 42 assists.
Aside from these two, younger players also played a key role. Brady Sowder is poised to return after a 30-point season (14 goals, 156 assists). Also back are Minnesota River’s two main goaltenders: Mitch Kotek and Logan Moe. Kotek posted a .896 save percentage last season, including a 40-save performance in a win against Marshall. Meanwhile, Moe appeared in 12 games and posted a .871 save percentage.
What to expect next season
Though the Bulldogs entered the 2019-20 season with consecutive state tournament appearances on the brain, there’s a chance to make it two appearances in three seasons with the talent returning. There’s also the fact that Section 1A has been extremely competitive from top to bottom. Programs are annually emerging out of this section and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping anytime soon.