Chisago Lakes ready to reload in 2022-23
After finishing the 2021-22 season with a 21-6-1 record and losing in the section championship to Mahtomedi, the Wildcats have a lot to look forward to this fall.
LINDSTROM, Minn. — After a strong 2021-22 campaign, the Chisago Lakes Wildcats are looking to reload for the upcoming season.
The team put up an impressive nine-game win streak in the spring before eventually falling to Mahtomedi in the Section 4A championship game. Since taking over in July 2020, head coach Cory Lushanko has implemented a couple of changes to help make the team stronger.
"Since I've taken over, I've tried to make our schedule harder," Lushanko said. "In years past we probably wouldn't have played teams like Minneapolis."
This past season, two seniors paved the way for the Wildcats — Nicholas Helland and Ryan Schmidt combined for a whopping 140 points. Lushanko described Schmidt as more of a silent leader and Helland as an outgoing, loud locker room presence.
"[Schmidt] let's most of his play do the talking," Lushanko said. "He was quick, he was elusive. I can't say enough good things about [Helland], he's kind of our vocal leader — really just a goofy, funny, awesome kid."
Although neither of them currently have any plans to continue their hockey career, they both made a big impact on the Chisago Lakes program on the ice and in the classroom.
"I gotta give a shoutout to my guys, because they did a really good job taking care of the academics and making sure they're doing good things away from the rink," Lushanko said.
One senior that will be playing junior hockey is defenseman Owen Garvey, who will suit up for the Minnesota Mullets of the USPHL this season.
With so much offensive firepower departing from last year's team, there are some gaps to fill, but there are a few players who are looking to make a big step up this fall.
One player to look out for is rising senior defender Nate Bluhm. Lushanko describes him as fluid and mobile with effortless transitions. Bluhm will wear a 'C' for Wildcats this year.
Another returning player is goaltender Jack Hanson, who posted a .915 save percentage last season.
"I think he's one of the best kept secrets in all of Single-A," said Lushanko of Hanson, later calling him one of the calmest players on the ice.
Although the competition won't get any easier for the Wildcats in the Mississippi 8 conference alongside squads like Cambridge-Isanti and Monticello, and in Section 4A beside teams like Mahtomedi, the Wildcats have a lot of potential for 2022-23.
"We're getting close to knocking on that state tournament door," Lushanko said.
For more on Chisago Lakes' season, details on the process of naming new captains, and some of coach Lushanko's favorite memories of the year, listen to the podcast or watch the full interview.