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Park boys hockey: Wolfpack begins season this week

Park’s boys hockey team will drop the puck a bit later than many other teams around the state.

However, their first week competition will have a loaded slate when they play Tartan, East Ridge and Mounds View in the first week of December. Mounds View also plays their first games of the season that week too.

“The only advantage would be that we have more time to work on things and implement our systems and special teams,” Wolfpack coach Jay Moser said. “That just means we have more games crammed into the middle of the season.”

The Wolfpack opened their season against Tartan on Tuesday, Dec. 3, after the Bulletin went to print. The Titans have a young team, but they have some key senior leadership. Brady O’Sullivan and Zach Ledman had 50 and 43 points last season respectively. Senior goaltender Gabe Splichal a .912 save percentage and helped his team to a 20-5-1 record.

The Titans have already shown their ability to put up points with a 7-2 win over Rochester Century in their season opener on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Wolfpack will need either Matt Palmquist or Kyle Strand to have a big night in goal.

“We need to play with energy and intensity,” Moser said.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, the Wolfpack will open Suburban East Conference play with Mounds View. The Mustangs, 13-10-3 last season, have a solid goaltender in senior Brandon Smith with his .887 save percentage, but they do not have a 20-plus type goal scorer.

The Wolfpack will conclude a busy first week of play with rival East Ridge on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Raptors have some offensive firepower with sophomore forward Derek Hammer, and both goaltenders stop the puck at least 88 percent of the time.

The Raptors will meet the Wolfpack at the end of a four-game stretch of away games. This game also has Section 3AA ramifications in addition to bragging rights and SEC standings.

“Our defensive zone play will be a key factor as well as staying out of the penalty box,” Moser said.

For now, the Wolfpack will continue practicing before the puck drops. Moser will have them focus on what they need to do in each game throughout the season.

“I tend to focus on what we do, on the things that we can control,” Moser said. “Other teams, especially early on are trying to find their identity.”

—Matthew Davis