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Effort is nonnegotiable for the Tartan Titans

Tartan finished sixth in the Metro East conference last season, but with a large senior class the Titans hope to finish higher this year.

Tartan
A member of the Tartan boys hockey team prepares for a faceoff in a summer scrimmage against Minneapolis.
Sydney Wolf / The Rink Live

OAKDALE, Minn. — The Tartan boys hockey program wrapped up the 2021-22 season with a 15-10-1 record, but the Titans hope to improve even more in the future.

Head Coach Cole Leitch points back to one simple line when leading his players: "effort is nonnegotiable." The team prides itself on working hard and being tough to play against.

This past season, the Titans started off the season with three wins in a row before illness and injury struck over Christmas break and into the new year, when the squad hit a rough patch.

Once the team was healed up, the Titans started to play their best games of the year. Tartan finished the season with a 7-game win streak before eventually falling in the section 4AA quarterfinals.

"We had a couple younger underclassman that did a good job that we didn't see coming," said Leitch. Overall, Tartan finished sixth in the conference. "That one kind of hurt. I see us moving up in the Metro East this year."

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The team hopes its tenacity and toughness, along with strong senior leadership, will pave the way in 2022-23.

Many of the 13 rising seniors were on a bantam team that didn't get to experience the state tournament when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. The tournament was set to start the day that Minnesota started to shut down and go into quarantine.

You can expect senior captains Noah Joyce, Stone Resch, Gavin Busche and Colin Kammerer to lead the way for the Titans this fall. All four were on the 2020 Titans Bantam A team that made it to state, but didn't get to compete.

Joyce put up 18 points this past season despite battling an injury for the last half of the year. Buche, Resche and Kammerer all were praised by Leitch as being outstanding leaders. Those three players accounted for 55 combined points in 2021-22.

The senior leadership will play a big part in the teams success this year, but goaltending will be one of the main questions the team will have to answer before the season.

Senior Steven Kelley was the starter in net for the Titans last season, posting a .913 save percentage with four shutouts. In goal this season will be either a transfer or up-and-comer Damon Hennagir. Hennagir spent last year with the team after getting called up early from bantams to be a back-up to Kelley.

Other notable seniors who have departed the program this offseason are leading scorers Charlie Ashton, Leo Milan and Chet Bertelsen.

"They are really excited to get this season going," said Coach Leitch.

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The Titans have some unfinished business, and you can expect that they'll want to get started right away.

For more on what to expect from Tartan, how they're growing the game with 'Try Hockey for Free' days and why there's a Star Wars character listed on the teams roster, make sure to listen to the full podcast or watch the interview with Coach Leitch.

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Sydney Wolf is a reporter for The Rink Live, primarily covering youth hockey. She joined the team in November of 2021 and graduated from St. Cloud State University with a B.S. in Mass Communications and a minor in Writing and Rhetoric Studies and was a part of the University Honors Program.
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