Eagan boys hockey is on the way up
The Wildcats went from 1-15 to 9-17 in just one season and are looking to keep the improvement going.
EAGAN, Minn. — After finishing 1-15 in the 2020-2021 season, Eagan boys hockey had some work to do.
"We were a very young team and our record showed." said head coach Todd Carlson.
The squad had very few returners that year and players missed out on many typical team bonding experiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the Wildcats ended up finishing this past year 9-17 and feel positive about the road ahead. The team was lead by senior Alex Lachenmayer and his team-high 28 points (11-17-28).
"He is a tremendous student-athlete," said Carlson. "Nearly a 4.0 student, captain of three sports, he was named male athlete of the year for this graduating class."
The team also found strength in seniors Ben Barbato and Dylan Wedward, who each produced more than 20 points.
Although some of the leading scorers have graduated, there are plenty of up-and-coming players looking to step up, including rising seniors Gus Gleich and Gavin Goihl.
"We're going to have surprising depth ... We have a couple of very talented, skilled forwards." said Carlson.
The team had two starting goaltenders last season in senior Tryg LaVallie and sophomore Gabe Gleich.
Although LaVallie has graduated, Gleich still has two seasons left. "Gabe is a very athletic goalie, he's good at moving the puck and he will be our guy going into next season."
The boys high school team in Eagan isn't the only program that had a year with many improvements though, as the city recently was one of two communities that received the Dick's Sporting Goods "Grow The Game" awards, which rewards initiatives in recruiting and retention within the sport.
"A lot of youth programs are struggling ... and we're increasing," said Carlson. He added that young kids now gather around the locker room tunnels at the high school games to try and high-five the players as they go out onto the ice, and that that was something that didn't happen two years ago.
Although the South Suburban Conference isn't likely going to get any easier, Eagan is hopeful and excited about the upcoming season.
"We've got a great group of young men that have worked extremely hard and are really starting to believe that we can get back to Wildcat hockey," Carlson said.
For more on Eagan's season this past year, including the two starting goaltenders, memories of water-balloon dodgeball, and the senior class and their future hockey plans, make sure to watch the full interview below or tune into the podcast above.