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Tigers open season with 5-0 win in Milwaukee

If opponents thought the New Richmond boys hockey team would be an easy mark in the 2004-05 season because of the talent that graduated after last season, they are in for a surprise.

A big surprise.

The Tigers opened their 04-05 season last Friday by travelling to Milwaukee to face Marquette High School, a team they beat 4-3. This year the Tigers made the long trip home with the self-assurance of a 5-0 win over Marquette.

There's no questioning that they graduated one of the finest senior classes in the state last year with players like Josh Calleja, Dan Bergman, Kenny Walters, Tommy Wells and several others. What some people tend to forget is there is still two thirds of the team returning and there is plenty of talent among those returning players.

At goaltender the Tigers have one of the strongest duos in the state in senior Matt Page and junior Matt Knutson.

In juniors Kyle Ensign, Brandon Larson and Andy Smith, the Tigers have three experienced defensemen returning. Coach Adam Swanda said that Danny Powers and Brian Remington have been pleasant surprises in how well they've adjusted to playing at the varsity level.

There are six returning forwards to make up the top two lines to start the season. Swanda has juniors Brady Powers, Jon Sicsik and Chris Ellevold playing on the first line. Seniors Tyler Hanson, Danny Wells and Justin Elmer make up the second line. There are several players fighting for spots on the third line. Swanda said that with the experience on the top two lines, he doesn't have to rush the younger players on the third line. He said that later in the season he expects the third line should be able to play a productive regular shift.

Swanda said several players have made substantial improvements since last season. Powers, Sicsik, Ensign and Page all played extensively over the summer against strong competition that has improved their skills.

In the win last Friday the Tigers scored one power play goal, one short-handed goal and three even-strength goals.

Smith scored the only goal of the first period. The Tigers broke the game open in the second period, with goals from Ensign, Sicsik and Hanson. Hanson added another goal in the third period.

Page got the shutout in goal for the Tigers, stopping 16 Marquette shots.

On Saturday the Tigers hosted Northland Pines in a scrimmage. The Tigers were winners of the scrimmage by a 7-4 score.

The Tigers play their first two Middle Border Conference games of the season this week. On Thursday the Tigers will play at home against Amery. On Saturday the Tigers play at Somerset. Both games start at 7 p.m.

Swanda said this season's Tigers are ready to move on from last season and make things happen this season.

"We just have to be better than our competition, not better than our team last year," Swanda said. "Eleven returners have been around the last two seasons. Now it's their turn to shine."

New Richmond 5, Marquette 0

First Period: 1. NR, Andy Smith (Tyler Hanson, Justin Elmer) 6:07.

Second Period: 2. NR, Kyle Ensign (Brady Powers, Smith) pp 1:27. 3. NR, Jon Sicsik (Brian Remington) sh 5:15. 4. NR, Hanson (un) 14:33.

Third Period: 5. NR, Hanson (Elmer) 8:30.

Saves: New Richmond (Matt Page) 16; Marquette (Chris Larson 8, Kyle Freuck 11) 19.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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