Centennial coach Ritch Menne has a deep appreciation for the Cougars' wrecking ball that is Kenny Sinna. Both coach and player epitomize the grit and tenacity that have become the Cougars' defining characteristics.
Menne spent six years as the Centennial's junior varsity coach before taking over the program two seasons ago. A self-described ™Centennial lifer,∫ Menne played for the Cougars, graduating in 1990.
Sinna, a senior who plays on the Cougars' top line, also put in his time on the junior varsity, including most of last season when he managed just three points in limited varsity action.
"Kenny has been a rock for us," Menne said. "There's a prime example of a kid who never played A Bantam hockey, he played JV for two years and he comes in his senior year and he commits to working hard. And he has a fantastic season. I couldn't be more proud of him."
The No. 5-seeded Cougars (22-4-2) don't have a roster full of superstars. Who needs them? They'll punch the clock, strap on their skates and go to work at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, in a quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 seed Wayzata (21-7-0).
-- Loren Nelson
FORWARDS: The Gorowsky brothers, Hans and Ryner, are joined by Kenny Sinna on a fabulous first line. But the Cougars have a legitimate second scoring line led by senior forward Andrew Bertrand, who scored in a huge goal in the section final.
DEFENSE: The Cougars lost four of their top five defensemen from last season but seem to have regrouped just fine. Sophomore Ryan Meany and senior Tom Heron were the starters in the section title game, and senior Will Juergens and junior Will Schwartz are key cogs of a group that helped limit opponents to a 2.35 goals-against average in the regular season.
GOALTENDING: Senior Patrick Munson was one of the hottest goaltenders in the state early in the season and, after a rough outing in a 7-1 loss to Blaine on Feb. 2, has allowed a combined six goals in his last six games.
Here's a guy who has paid his dues. Menne played for the Cougars, graduating in 1990, and he spent more than a decade coaching in Centennial's youth hockey system before taking over the junior varsity program. Menne is in his second season as head coach after filling the void created by the retirement of longtime Cougars leader Erik Aus. Menne has a 35-14-5 overall record.
It's hard to pick against a blue collar outfit that might just become the darlings of the tourney because of their tenacious playing style. The problem for the Cougars is they are running up against a team fueled by similar grit and tenacity in Wayzata.
Conference: Northwest Suburban
2012-13 Record: 22-4-2
State trips: 2004 Champs, 13
Coach: Ritch Menne
Assistants: Gary Tolkinen, Ted Cheesebrough, Chris Johnson
Home arena: Centennial Sports Arena, Circle Pines
Last season: Lost to Anoka in Section 5AA quarterfinals, 2-1