By Dan Schroeder
After one of the most successful seasons in school history, the Mound Westonka boys hockey team got the 2018-2019 season underway and are off to a 3-1 start. The White Hawks’ season began Nov. 24 against North Shore. This year’s team has many new faces, as the hockey program graduated 17 seniors last year. The team will be led by senior captains Ethan Fetters Vandenheuvel and Carter Hansen, along with alternate captains Britt Courneya and Noah Coley, also seniors.
In spite of that turnover, the White Hawks came away with a 6-2 win on home ice at Thaler Arena. The senior leadership led the way in their home opener win. Senior Alex Farwell scored two goals, including the game-winner. Farwell’s two goals were his first at the varsity level. Courneya and Hansen also scored. Sophomores Ivan Sunder and Trent Bowe also added their first White Hawks varsity goals in the win. Netminder Coley stopped 19 of 21 shots in the opener. The JV team won their home opener as well, with an 8-0 win, behind a shutout from junior Joe Schwob.
Second-year head coach Jake Hindermann was happy with the outcome. “Every season presents new challenges,” Hindermann said. “Having that many seniors graduate last season is definitely a hurdle to overcome, but it’s important to not look at this as a rebuilding year.”
“Getting a win Saturday was important because that was our expectation,” Hindermann added. “The greater success was accomplishing what we set out to do and growing as a team and building confidence.”
In the following game on Nov. 27, the White Hawks prevailed 3-2 over the visiting Southwest Christian/Richfield Stars. This game was a battle, as the Stars goalie stopped 38 of 39 shots in the first two periods. MWHS had the lone goal through two periods after Fetters Vandenheuvel scored a short-handed goal to give the White Hawks the 1-0 lead heading into the third period. Fetters Vandenheuvel would add a power play goal early in the third period to give the White Hawks a 2-0 lead. After a Stars goal, Sunder scored his second goal of the season, which proved to be the game-winner. Coley stopped 16 of 18 shots to improve the team’s record to 2-0-0 on the season.
Following the game, coach Hindermann was impressed. “That was a tough one,” he said. “We faced a tough goalie. I’m proud of the boys for remaining positive and patient. I was very happy with the resilience I saw from our team.”
The White Hawks then took to the road last weekend with road games on back-to-back days against Mankato East and New Ulm on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. On Friday night, the White Hawks traveled to face the Mankato East Cougars, a state tournament participant from 2018. After falling behind 1-0 in the first, junior Michael Schroeder scored his first White Hawks varsity goal – a rebound, backhanded goal – to knot the game at 1-1. East would take a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but the White Hawks would respond with two straight goals from Farwell and Bowe to take a 3-2 lead. East would score a goal late in the second period to tie the game at 3-3.
The third period was a battle, with both teams getting good scoring chances, but the tie was not broken until 14:31 of the period when Mankato East scored after a turnover resulted in a breakaway. They would add an empty net goal late to make it a 5-3 final.
“I thought we controlled the play and puck possession, but we made some poor decisions with the puck and had a little bad luck,” stated Hindermann. “You just can’t give up six breakaways. We made some inexperienced mistakes; players tried to do a bit too much instead of making the simple play. We’ll work on that and get that fixed.”
When asked about the goaltending, Hindermann complimented Coley. “I think we left Coley out to dry,” Hindermann said. “Noah played strong and kept us in the game despite mental errors we made as a team. All you can ask of your goalie is to play strong enough to give the team the chance to win, and Noah did that.” Coley finished the game with 33 saves.
The team came back the next day with another road game against the New Ulm Eagles on Saturday afternoon, which was not an easy task, considering this would be the White Hawks’ second game in under 24 hours. Coach Hindermann expected that this could make things more difficult. “This was our first road trip, and it was a quick turnaround, playing two games in less than 24 hours,” he said. “Fatigue was a factor, but you have to give New Ulm credit for their effort. They played us tough and gave us all we could handle.”
The White Hawks would take control in the first period, as sophomore Mitch Krebsbach would redirect a shot from Hansen to give them a 1-0 lead. Midway through the second period, freshman Michael Doshan was able to bury the puck to give the White Hawks a 2-0 lead. The goals were varsity firsts for both Krebsbach and Doshan. The Eagles would answer with a goal later in the second period to make the game 2-1 heading into the final period. The teams fought hard to a deadlock in the third period, resulting in a 2-1 White Hawks win. Coley stopped 21 of 22 shots to help guide the team to their 3-1-0 start.
The White Hawks JV team is off to a 2-1-1 start as well.
Both the JV and varsity return to action on Tuesday, Dec. 4, when they travel to St. Paul Academy before returning to home for non-conference games Dec. 6 and 8 against Rochester Lourdes and Bloomington Kennedy. We hope to see you at the rink this week!