WHS boys hockey team rests season on hard work

The Worthington High School boys hockey season is a little short on varsity experience, so hope is being placed in good old-fashioned hard work

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WORTHINGTON -- If there’s an attribute the Worthington High School boys hockey team needs to hang its skates on during the 2022-23 season, it’s gotta be its desire to work.

The Trojans aren’t going to be one of the more experienced teams this winter. Lacking any veteran seniors, not blessed with a carry-over of proven scorers, and without a bunch of speedy skaters, Worthington will commence with a standing start Tuesday when it opens at home (7 p.m.) against the New Ulm Eagles.

“This team, it’s gonna have to be our work ethic,” head coach Tyler Nienkerk said this week at a practice session. “We’ve just gotta be the hardest-working team on the ice. We’ve got to be difficult to play against.”


The core group of Trojans consists of seven juniors and one sophomore.

Caden Van Briesen, a center, will be a leader on and off the ice and figures to be one of the hardest workers on the team. He’ll push his teammates to be better, and that’s an especially important attribute to have now.


Ian Bumgardner, a defenseman, was a forward last year. He sees the ice well, and he’s a good stickhandler.

Center-forward Easton Newman is a big and physical 6-foot, 200-pounder, and he likes to forecheck. Dawson Duangpai is another who’s always willing to take on the bigger skaters, and he’ll gladly take a hit to make a big play.

Defenseman Kyle Ahrenstorff is steady and plays a true defensive game. Another defenseman, Logan Powers, has good size (6-0, 180) and likes to use it.

WORTHINGTON -- They shot 3’s in the first half like it was taking a walk in the park. They played stifling defense. They took advantage of a Worthington High School girls basketball team that was missing three productive players.
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Another junior, Collin Ahlers, will be in goal. His varsity hockey experience is limited, but he already exhibits a good work ethic and looks to be improved from last year.

One sophomore, forward Spencer Nickel, adds a good motor to the team, and he’s another player who can be physical. Blessed with a high hockey IQ, he typically finds himself in the right place at the right time.

“We’re a young team. We know that, so our goal is just to get better every practice, every game, and to play well at the end of the year,” said Nienkerk. “The one thing that we can do every practice and every game is our work ethic -- how hard we can work. We want to be competitive in every game we play.”

Though the team is relatively inexperienced, Nienkerk says it does have some capable scorers in Van Briesen, Newman and Nickel. Bumgardner, too, can put the puck in the net.

The Trojans posted a solid 12-14 record in 2021-22, but Nienkerk thought they left some potential victories on the ice. That’s why it’s so important this year for the players to buy into the program, to be mentally tough.


And because of their inexperience, practices will focus heavily on the skills side of the equation.

Many of the 2022-23 Trojans came up together as ninth-graders. And though there’s a lack of experience in the senior class, opportunities are evident everywhere.

“The way I see it, it’s just an opportunity for these kids to step up in leadership roles. Nobody says you’ve got to be a senior to be a leader,” said Nienkerk.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at
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