It was a magical ride last season for the Faribault High School boys hockey team.
For the first time in the program’s history, the Falcons were Big 9 Conference champions. Coach Brad Ryan’s squad compiled a 20-7 record and averaged a conference-best 5.4 goals per game on offense.
But that was last year. A new season starts Saturday, as FHS travels to take on Dodge County in the 2010-11 season opener.
The puck is set to drop Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Kasson Ice Arena.
“For the most part, I’d feel comfortable saying that was last year. This is this year,” Ryan said. “Many of the players realize that. The ultimate goal is to go out there and do what we can this year and see where the chips fall.”
With plenty of new faces on this year’s roster — Faribault graduated 10 seniors from last year’s Big 9 champion squad — Ryan said he’ll be looking for veteran leadership as the younger players get adjusted to the speed and physicality of the varsity game.
Offensively, Ryan said seniors Jack Helgeson and Sean Lipinski — the top two returning scorers from last season — will be two of the team’s main contributors. Lipinski was third on the team last year with 44 points, while Helgeson chipped in 22 points during his junior season.
“They need to come prepared and show the younger guys and mentor them as far as getting them prepared,” Ryan said. “Those two are great leaders when it comes to the offense.”
The Wildcats finished last year with a 12-14-1 record, falling 4-2 to Lakeville South in the Section 1AA tournament to end their season. FHS opened the 2009-10 season against Dodge County as well, with Faribault winning a 5-1 home contest.
“I’m pretty sure the boys will be working hard from Dodge County,” Ryan said.