The Mound Westonka/Watertown-Mayer high school boys hockey team began their season with a home loss in a close 4-3 contest against Hibbing/Chisholm on Nov. 24.The game was tight all the way through, with the White Hawks coming back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third period before giving up the game winning goal.
Broten Togstad scored the first goal of the White Hawks season in the first period, with assists by Hunter Smith and Sander Lee. Down by two goals early in the third, Jack Brandstetter scored to bring the White Hawks within one. Jeremy Schulz and Nick Tschida both were credited with assists.
About five minutes later defenseman Charlie Curti tied the game at 3-3, with an assist by goaltender Andy Seats. The White Hawks were only able to hold the tie for 50 seconds, however, as Hibbing forward Josh Bestul scored the game-winning goal for Hibbing/Chisholm.
Despite the loss, head coach Doug Runke said he thought his team moved the puck and played defense well enough for a chance at victory.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” said Runke.
After a 15-8-1 regular season, the White Hawks won their first round section game against Orono High School before losing to the Breck School 8-1. “
We feel like we have a team that we can build off last year and compete for the conference and the section,” said Runke.
The White Hawks, who began the season ranked 18th by the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association, were only one point away from winning the Wright County Conference last year. Delano, who finished 9-3-0 in the conference, was first with 18 points while MWHS earned 17 points with an 8-3-1 record in the conference.
“It’s tough to win 16 games like we did last year,” said Runke. “What we can do to get over the hump is our focus.”
Runke said the team will look to leadership from their captains Brandstetter and Curti. Both worked with the team before the season started and each tallied one goal in the first game.
“They’ve had a very good start this season,” he said.
Other players Runke expects to lead the team includes Tanner Palm as a good roll player for the second or third line, Tschida on defense and Huner Smith as a forward who can “put some pucks in the net.”
The next two games for the White Hawks are difficult road games, as the team will travel up north to play Warroad High School on Nov. 30 and Lake of the Woods High School on Dec. 1.
“We’ve got a couple of back-to-back tough games coming up,” said Runke.
The next White Hawks home game is at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Thaler Sports Center.