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 Andover.
How last season went
The Huskies were an absolute force in the Northwest Suburban Conference last season, going 11-0-1 in conference play against teams like Blaine, Maple Grove, and Centennial. Their last loss of the regular season came on January 7th to St. Cloud Cathedral, who went on to finish 3rd in State for Class A. From there, the senior-loaded juggernaut won 12 straight games going into sections, and outscored their opponents 24-1 in section playoffs to secure Andover’s first-ever appearance in the MN State High School Hockey Tournament.
Andover seemed like a team of destiny, securing a 1 seed in the State Tournament and facing off against a gritty St. Thomas Academy team, who won their way in despite being ranked 5th in their section tournament. Unfortunately for the Huskies, they ran into a hot goaltender in Tommy Aitkin, who stopped 33 of 35 shots to carry the Cadets to a 3-2 upset win.
In a showing of pure resilience, the Huskies rallied in the consolation bracket to defeat Moorhead and Maple Grove, winning the school’s first-ever Consolation Championship and putting Andover officially on the map for MN High School Hockey.
Who’s gone and who’s back
Mark Manney and his coaching staff have their work cut out for them, as the Huskies graduated 15 seniors from this historic team. Andover is only returning 2 defensemen to their varsity roster, losing blue line staplesand Mitchell Wolfe, who combined for 69 points and +85 ratings. Kaiser was voted the 2020 Reed Larson winner as the state’s top defenseman is and will play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL before joining the UMD Bulldogs for the 2021-2022 season. Wolfe has not committed anywhere yet at this time. Their top 3 scorers Hunter Jones, , and Gunnar Thoreson will each play in the NAHL for the 2020-2021 season.
Despite the turnover, there are a few bright spots that Andover will have working in their favor this coming season. Starting goalie is returning for his senior season. Larson posted an impressive 14-3 record this season with a .922 SV% and 7 SO. Also returning is forward Garret Shifsky, who led the team in goals with 19, 4 of them being game-winners. Lastly, the experience gained from a State Tournament run cannot be undersold. Every returning player and coach has to be hungry to get back and now knows what it takes to get there.
What to expect next season
Andover has certainly made a name for themselves, but in order to stay on top, they’ll need a big season fromand . Not to mention, returning defensemen Mason Cotter and Weston Knox will have big shoes to fill as they look to solidify the blue line for the Huskies.