Posted at: 11/19/2012 9:29 PM
Updated at: 11/20/2012 10:46 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
Tryouts are over, and the Hermantown Hawks have assembled their varsity squad. The team may look a little younger, but returning players say the goals are still the same.
"I think we have some high expectations, but also some of the right guys to come in and fill some of those slots from last year's seniors," said Bo Gronseth, Hermantown senior wing.
"We want to go and set expectations for other teams in the area that we are going to be a good team again this year," said Travis Koepke, Hermantown senior center.
Initially, the Hawks' strength will be their offense, driven by senior forwards. But as the season goes on, Coach Bruce plante says some new players could emerge and contribute in a big way.
"They've waited two years to get their one year of varsity," Plante said. "They'll be highly motivated and they'll work their butt off to have one year of success."
Hermantown is ranked third in the preseason polls and first among public schools. It may serve as motivation, but senior defenseman Jake Zeleznikar doesn't put much weight in those numbers.
"We haven't proved anything yet, they haven't proved anything yet. number one ranking is up for grabs," Zeleznikar said. "Ultimately, all that matters is who is at the top at the end."
The Hawks have been state runner up three years in a row in a tough class a that is full of dominant Twin Cities private schools.
"These private school city teams are all star teams," Plante said. "It's tough for any of us teams up north to have that kind of depth. We get our top five to seven guys, they're as good as anybody. But then we have to play younger kids."
"It's a challenge and we have a lot of pride playing with our own hometown guys," Zeleznikar said. "We work with what we've got."
What they've got is playoff experience and talent, and Hermantown expects to be in the hunt again in march.