Boys hockey: Trojans shoot for a new beginning
BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- A fresh start. That's what first-year head coach Tyler Nienkerk is trying to instill into his Worthington boys hockey team. "The kids are working hard and we have a good group of seniors," Nienkerk said aft...
BY AARON HAGEN
WORTHINGTON -- A fresh start.
That’s what first-year head coach Tyler Nienkerk is trying to instill into his Worthington boys hockey team.
“The kids are working hard and we have a good group of seniors,” Nienkerk said after a recent practice. “They got together throughout the summer and did some things. Just trying to work together as a team and just kind of a fresh start for everybody is kind of what we’ve pushed for.”
The Trojans are coming off a season in which they won two games. However, with a solid core returning, Nienkerk is hopeful for a better season.
“We’re going to change some things up, but nothing we’re changing is a reflection on anything that happened before us,” he said. “It’s a new start for everybody. Forget about what happened last year, let’s just move forward and everybody buy in and see what we can do.”
Leading the returning players are captains Tommy Bauman, Lance Hibma and Ryan Newman.
“They are great kids,” Nienkerk said. “They are three who were pushed up as ninth-graders. In the summer, they have been the ones pushing getting together and working on things.”
Gage Anderson, Henry Gonzalez, Colby Nickel, Krew Aljets, Zach Ahrenstorff, Logan Kluever, Jack Black and Kipton Jenson also return as WHS will have three solid lines this year.
“The root of all Worthington problems for hockey is numbers,” Nienkerk said. “When you don’t have that competition, nobody pushing you, the best player is only going to go so high. The players below them aren’t going to get pushed up, either. Just trying to get back to where we can start growing it at the lower levels and it will start to trickle up.”
Also returning is sophomore goalie Preston Thavixay, who saw time in net as a freshman.
“We’re trying to be aware of who we are and we’re not going to be the most highly-skilled team out there, but we can definitely be the hardest working team,” Nienkerk said. “Skilled team or not, it has to start with goaltending. That’s just the game.”
Nienkerk was the varsity assistant last year and has spent numerous years coaching lower levels within the hockey association. This season, Skyler Wenninger takes over as the assistant.
“There’s a little more pressure,” Nienkerk said. “The talk of where we’d like to see the program go, now it’s time to put that into action. It’s going good. Things just move fast, we’re just doing everything we can to move forward and start to get this program back on track to where everybody can be proud of it and back to respectability.”
Early on, the Trojans have a touch schedule. They open Tuesday at Marshall.
“We’ll hit the ground running with Marshall, New Ulm and St. Peter,” the coach said. “We start out tough right away. Sometimes it’s almost better to take them right off the bat before they get their game going all the way. We’ll go after it.”