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Somerset hockey hoping to build on last season's success

After winning the most games in team history a year ago, and losing just two seniors, hopes are high for the Somerset boys hockey team this winter.

Somerset advanced to the WIAA sectional semifinals last winter, after winning 18 games, the most wins ever by a Spartan varsity team. The Spartans have two significant players to replace. Jordan Langness and Michael Chernyaev were the only graduates from last year’s team. Langness may have been the best goaltender in Spartan history, recording the team’s lowest goals against average ever last season. Chernyaev was a gritty second-line forward.

Somerset averaged 3.5 goals per game last year. Spartan coach Dan Gilkerson acknowledged that wasn’t a huge total for a team that won 18 games. He said Langness was the team’s safety net, helping them win numerous low-scoring games.

“We’ll have to score more or play better defense,” Gilkerson predicted.

The Spartans bring back their top seven scorers, so the offense is pretty much intact. The team played three defensemen for most of the season last year, and all three return.

One of the biggest differences for the Spartans this year is depth. With 25 boys out for the team, it’s a major increase in numbers. Instead of playing three forward lines like last year, the team has five lines available. Along with the three returning defensemen, there are three young defensemen who can work their way into the rotation.

Spartan fans will probably do a double-take when they first glance toward the Spartan goal in the first games of the season. Though Langness is gone, his younger brother, sophomore Bryce Hanson, is one of the contenders to play goal this season. Hanson will even be wearing Langness’ equipment, so there’s a strong resemblance. Hanson got to play in five games last season for the Spartans, winning them all.

The second contender for time in goal is freshman Adam Larson. He’s currently playing on the U14 Team Wisconsin, so Gilkerson said Larson should be ready for playing at the varsity level.

The Spartans started their season on Tuesday as part of their three-day home tournament. The tournament will continue this weekend. The Spartans will play at 7 p.m. on Friday against Menomonie and at 7 p.m. on Saturday against Pine City, Minn.

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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