Tourney Team Preview: Orono
With Orono’s tough schedule, their only Class A losses have come against No. 1 Warroad and No. 2 Hermantown
No. 4 Orono Spartans
Coach: Sean Fish
Most Recent Let’s Play Hockey Ranking: 3
Players to Watch: #21 F Bradley Walker, #7 F Avery Anderson, #1 G Brock Peyton, #27 D Joey Mugaas, #5 D John Engebretson
Last Appearance: 2018
1 State Title (2018)
Orono is a battle tested team and has been a top-five Class A team since early December. Although they may not have the flashiness that Warroad and Hermantown have, the Spartans have a lot of talent and have played a tough schedule that has prepared them for the state tournament.
2023 will be the first year that the Spartans are back at the tournament since they won the state title back in 2018. Orono’s girls hockey team also made it to state this season, so this is a big year for the Sparatans hockey program on both sides.
Orono ended up drawing the No. 4 seed at state, even though most polls have them in the No. 3 spot, but nevertheless the Spartans will have to persevere on and play No. 5 Northfield in the quarterfinals. This game should favor the high seed, as the Spartans have already defeated the Raiders, 3-1 back in December.
With Orono’s tough schedule, their only losses have come to No. 1 and No. 2 Class A teams Warroad and Hermantown, and then losses to Class AA’s Chanhassen (twice) and Benilde-St. Margaret’s, so realistically the only team that would be putting up a fight for the squad would be the dreaded Warriors and Hawks. Otherwise, Orono have been really good in games against other Class A teams and have already played most of their fellow tourney participants. The only teams they haven’t played at state are Luverne and Mahtomedi, who are both on the other side of the bracket.
The Spartans are led by forward Bradley Walker this season. Walker has 19 goals and 29 assists, a team high for both categories. Avery Anderson has also been a top forward for Orono, along with Cayden Effertz. Joey Mugaas and John Engebretson have been the top defenders for their team with goaltender Brock Peyton holding it down in between the pipes. There’s a lot of depth to this team though, and many players who can score. Easton Sankey and Tommy Lewin are both skaters who’ve been making names for themselves lately.
It seems expected for Orono to come out on top in their quarterfinal game, but getting past No. 1 Warroad is going to be a tough task for the Spartans if they make it to the semifinals. Either way, this could be a year for Orono to bring home some hardware, whether it’s in the championship game, third place game, or consolation championship match.
Ranked Wins (Based on Feb. 23 Let’s Play Hockey Rankings): No. 13A Little Falls (4-2, Dec. 2), No. 17A Alexandria (8-5, Dec. 3), No. 8A Northfield (3-1, Dec. 13), No. 15A Minneapolis (3-2, Dec. 15; 8-5 Feb. 28), No. 20A Providence Academy (3-1, Dec. 30; 6-3, Jan. 17), No. 9A Delano (5-1, Jan. 12; 4-1, Mar. 3), No. 14A St. Cloud Cathedral (4-3, Jan. 19),
Ranked Losses: No. 1A Warroad (5-2, Dec. 29), No. 3AA Chanhassen (3-1, Jan. 10; 9-2 Feb. 11), No. 2A Hermantown (2-1, Feb. 1), No. 11AA Benilde-St. Margaret’s (6-2, Feb. 7),
Ranked Ties: None.