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Regular season ends, a look back at some story lines

By Pete Waggoner, 02/22/09, 9:17AM CST


A look back at some of the top stories of the 2008-2009 season


Eden Prairie, Minnesota
As the 2008-2009 Minnesota Boys High School Hockey regular season came to a close, another chapter was written on a memorable season.  It marked the first season of our new site, MnHockeyHub.com and the second season of the Emmy Award winning MyFoxHockey.com website.  The sites are only as effective as the games and people they cover, and this past season was testiment of the outstanding coaches and players that participate in the Minnesota High School Hockey League.  
After webcasting over 50 events that included games and Minnesota Hockey on Demand shows, we were able to connect the dots to all four corners of the State as a unique partnership with the Coaches Asscociation, Pointstreak, and MyFoxHockey.com was forged.  Thanks to the cooperation of the coaches, each team had their data input in our Pointstreak statistical package, and we were truly able to achieve a Statewide score and standing service. There were a number of amazing performances and a huge number of storylines that played out.  Below is a review from the regular season as we get prepared for the sprint to the State Championship.
Injury Leads to Opportunity
Edina Hornet star player Zach Budish was putting the finishing touches on his outstanding high school football career and was injured on the opening kickoff coverage team against the Southwest Lakers.  They lost more than a football player as the presumed Mr. Hockey Finalist and heart and soul player of the Hornet hockey team would be lost for the year.  His loss meant the already loaded Hornet team would now be beatable.  A collective sigh of relief could be heard from around the State as other teams saw their opening to challenge for a title.  This is not to suggest the Hornets had wrapped it up before the season started, but it is to say that they were clearly the team to beat with a number of high end players returning from the State Runner up team in 2008 and Budish leading the way.  They proved beatable in dropping four games three to top 10 teams and one to a top 20 team in Hopkins.  They needed overtime and a miraculous comeback to defeat the Minnetonka Skippers 6-5 to close out the season as they erased a 4-1 deficit with a flare for the dramatics.  They miss their leader, and Budish was the type of player fans come out to watch.  It is disappointing the High School Hockey fans of Minnesota did not have the opportunity to see one of the State's best players in years play the game.  The HockeyHub wishes a true gentleman and team leader the best of luck as his career will take him most likely from the USHL, to the Gophers, and the NHL.
Benik Comes From Nowhere and Sets Goal Scoring Mark
St. Francis Fighting Saints junior Joey Benik came off a sophomore season where he scored 25 goals, that was half of his team's 50 on the season.  He had a modest 37 points to the season and erupted for a breakout 63 goal season in 25 games, one more than Little Falls Jared Festler's 62 set in 2007.  His team went an impressive (19-7-1, 7-5-1) and garnered a lot of attention from the major news outlets as they finished in the middle of the pack of the North Suburban Conference.  His team fell to Princeton-Milaca in Section 7AA opening round action.  He scored 2 goals to finish with 65 and added an assist to round out his season totals of 27gp-65g-36a-101pts.  His senior season with the return of several young players including TJ Belisle (27g-35a-62pts) will be one to watch for the entire State of Hockey. 
Hanowski Sets All Time Point Mark With Plenty of Games Remaing; Flyers Perfect 25-0-0
Ben Hanowksi has put together a terrific season for the Little Falls Flyers and when considering that Jared Festler is gone, Beau Hanowski is gone, Ben Hanowski seems to find a way to get it done. He put up an astounding 57g-53a-110 point campaign.  Overshadowed by his record setting season of 380 points, is his team's perfect 25-0-0 record this season.  Riley Hirsch 25g-30a-55pts, defenceman Izaak Bergland 16g-37a-53pts, Wesley Waytashek 19g-29a-48pts, and Ben Nelson 20g-24a-48pts have led a deep team to a memorable season.  After winning the Consolation title at the Class A State Tournament last year, the number one ranked Flyers led by Hanowski would like nothing more to add six more games to their ledger.  In order to win, they will have to be perfect, and that would mean a Class A State Title.  They have appeared in the Class A State Tournament the last four seasons in a row. 
Duluth East Loaded for a Title Run
The Duluth East Greyhounds are in the midst of a season that could very well land them a run at the Class 2A State Championship this season as representatives of the Section 7AA.  They finished the regular season with a 21-3-1.  They are led by the trio of Max Tardy 28g-20a-48pts, defenceman Derek Forbort 4g-14a-18pts) and goalie Matt Cooper who has a record of  21-2-1, a goals against average of 1.37 and a save percentage of .915.  The Hounds play a steady game that does not panic.  They are smother teams defensively and it is Tardy and Joe Nelson who lead the way offensively.  The Hounds have won ten in a row and are ready for a run at the Section 7AA and have designs for more and that would be their first State Title since 1998. A trip this season would also be their first since 1995.
Jefferson and Eden Prairie Wage Memorable Battles
The Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars and the Eden Prairie Eagles ran away with the Lake Conference as the elite of the proud division.  Bloomington Jefferson spanked all comers and was undefeated entering their most difficult challenge at the Eden Prairie Community Center.  At 21-0-0. whispers of a perfect season and even comparisons to the 1993 team were beginning to be heard around the State.  The Eden Prairie Eagles had three losses on the resume two to Edina and one to the Jaguars earlier in the season.  Even though all three losses were by one goal for the Eagles, the game at the Bloomington Ice Garden clearly belonged to the Jaguars.  The Eagles won by a resounding 5-2 margin stopping the whispers, at least for the time being.  The Jaguars rebounded with three straight wins posting two shutouts against Eastview (12-0) and Eagan (3-0).  They finished off Lakeville North 6-3 to close out the 24-1-0 record as they await the potential showdown with the Edina Hornets or Holy Angels Stars in the Section 2AA.  The Eagles finished the season at 22-3-0 and tied for the Lake Conference Championship with the Jaguars and are the clear number one seed in the upcoming Section 6AA.  One thing is certain and that is two teams that participate in the district 6 for youth hockey will be at the State Tournament again this year and an agrument for three is valid, but of course, impossible.
Moorhead Bursts Back on the Scene
The Moorhead Spuds put together a quality season with arguably the toughest schedule in hockey.  They closed out a 12-9-3 season with a win over Hill Murray by a score of 5-3.  They played in an astounding 7 overtime games where they went 3-1-3.  Their only loss was to the Bloomington Jefferson Jaguars by a score of 4-3.  They are led by a physical, yet speedy group of forwards as Alex Altenbernd and Trent Johnson each paced the way with 15 goals.  They captured the number one seed in the Section 8AA and are looking to make a bid to their first State trip since 2005.
Anyone can win.
As the section tournaments begin, as many teams as ever have a chance to not only make it to St. Paul but a chance to win it.  The Class A is loaded with high level teams from all over the State.  There are always plenty of good seats available for the Class A championship weekend and this year will afford us all an opportunity to see a balanced tournament field.  We will do our best to bring you all of the action and information right here on the MnHockeyHub and MyFoxHockey.com.