Head coach Chris Huebel has a lot to be excited about with his Beaver Dam prep boys hockey team.
He’s got a lot of great leadership and experience coming back and that should help the Golden Beavers when they start playing some of the teams in the Badger North Conference, which is a new league for them after switching over from the Badgerland Conference.
“I don’t think you can take any team for granted on any given night in the Badger North,” Huebel said. “There’s some good quality opponents and a lot of them, I know Wisconsin Dells/Reedsburg, they made a run last year and went deep in the playoffs. Waunakee has always been a competitive program. Baraboo, we scrimmaged this summer; they’re going to be tough.
“It’s going to be exciting just to see where we fall in the new conference and see how well our kids do.”
Huebel likes his team’s chances as senior Marshall Goodrich will start between the pipes for the third season in a row.
“I think for him, the key is to just keep his confidence back there,” Huebel said of Goodrich, who was a first-team All-Badgerland selection a season ago. “This is a new year, and he’ll build off of last year. If he plays the way he’s capable of playing, he’ll be just fine.”
Four-year varsity player Blaiz Firari, Jacob Stuebe and Shane Lapen, who has made the switch from forward to defense, will provide ample support for Goodrich on the blue line.
Defense was a little bit of a problem for the Beavers last year, but Huebel thinks that with another year of experience under their belts, those players should do just fine.
“There’s a lot of new guys that were in the mix last year that some of the stuff we like to do, from a systems standpoint, it took them a little while to adjust,” Huebel said. “All that they needed to do was get used to it. I think that comes from that experience. Having those guys back and having experience under their belt will hopefully help.
“That’s one thing we always emphasize is be strong in the defensive zone and make Marshall’s job as easy as possible.”
Making the goalie’s job easier will be an emphasis, but giving Goodrich some cushion on the scoreboard will be crucial, too. Beaver Dam finished 10-10-2 last season, with four of the losses coming by a single goal.
“We’re looking forward to an opportunity to compete and hopefully to build off of last year, and notch a couple of those one-goal games that we didn’t win last year,” Huebel said.
Huebel feels confident about his offense as well, as he thinks the depth is “better than it’s been in years. We’ve got guys early on here, since we’ve started, who have been able to show some good scoring abilities. That part’s exciting. It’s good for the kids to be able to look forward to that.”
He’s got captain Sam VanderHoeven returning as a forward with Sam Strasser and Jay Kirschbaum on the same line, “which is a lot of senior experience” for one line, Huebel said.
It showed in the first game of the season, as the Golden Beavers defeated Oshkosh 5-1 on Nov. 21.
Huebel also has some new blood adding to the mix. Forwards Ben Cremers and Riler VanderHoeven and defenseman Dalton Jones will battle for minutes on the ice.
“We’ve got younger guys mixing in and that’s good,” Huebel said. “They’re adding in and competing for playing time. It’s been good. It’s been a good start to the season.”