The Hodag boys hockey team is excited for another chance to tear up the Rhinelander Ice Arena. Following a disappointing season where the record and statistics didn’t reflect the team’s talent, hockey coach Michael Laggis is ready to get back to fundamentals and start fresh in a brand new year.
Losing several key seniors from last year’s 3-18 squad, the team plans to start with a completely new slate entering this season. Desiring to have players step up and fill roster holes and continue to progress at their respective positions, Coach Laggis has some serious expectations about the upcoming year.
“Overall, we have a very young team in terms of the fact we don’t have a lot of seniors,” explained Laggis. “We are looking to have a lot of younger kids who are juniors and seniors improve and find ways to help this team.”
Coach Laggis also recognized the trials of last season, and how those things can be handled in the upcoming months.
“Our team struggled a lot of last year,” stated Laggis. “We had some off-the-ice issues and we weren’t a strong team win and loss wise, but some of the off-the-ice issues really plagued us late in the year. But we got through that, and we are looking to have a really strong group of kids. We are small, but want to have a tight group of athletes who get along really well and play their best to improve as the year goes on.”
Also recognizing some of the hindrances of his team, Coach Laggis isn’t pushing for unobtainable goals, but something every coach should include in his season outline.
“We are not the best in terms of conference ability and we are not conference favorites, but we want to continuously improve as the year goes on. Get those guys to push each other and continue to work hard and get better at what they do.”
When looking ahead to the season itself and thinking of who might be some of the largest contributors, Coach Laggis is quick to point to two of the few seniors bolstering his roster.
“We have a number of kids who could be big contributors this year. Certainly, senior Ben Franson has got a lot of experience and a lot of ability, and we are really looking for him to be a leader on our team. We have another senior coming back in Bobby Estabrook, who is a really talented kid and we need him to have a big year for us.”
But Coach Laggis is certainly not putting the future of the program on the backs of two seniors.
“We also have a freshman and sophomore goalie coming back this year,” said Laggis. “Those two need to really challenge each other and fight for that varsity spot. Like I said before, we also have a lot of juniors and sophomores who need to step up and help the program.”