The Prior Lake boys hockey team has the talent to make a deep playoff run this winter.
The six-week youth and high school sports shutdown back on Nov. 18 didn’t seem to bother the Lakers at all in their first two South Suburban Conference games. The team rolled to a 4-1 home win over Lakeville North Jan. 14 and an 8-0 shutout at Farmington Jan. 16.
Senior Matt Beaty picked up three goals in the two wins, including two against Farmington, while junior Sam Rice had a goal and an assist against Lakeville North.
Junior Trevor Boschee earned the shutout against Farmington with 16 saves. He also stopped 20 shots against Lakeville North.
Prior Lake won 18 games last year and had an 11-3-2 SSC mark. The Lakers were the No. 1 seed in Section 2AA, but lost 4-1 to Chaska in the semifinals.
Prior Lake’s top-three point producers were sophomores last year — Will Schumacher led the team in points with 37 and goals scored with 17. Alex Bump led in assists (21), adding 12 goals. Rice finished with 11 goals and 17 assists, while Beaty was fourth in points with 25 (14 goals, 11 assists).
Boshee was also the team’s No. 1 goalie as a sophomore, finishing last season with a 2.25 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and three shutouts.
So there’s plenty of high hopes for Lakers, ranked No. 6 in Class AA, this winter despite the tough circumstances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior Lake’s schedule consists of just 18 league games. The regular season ends March 13 at Apple Valley, and the Section 2AA tournament will follow.
Will there be a state tournament? The Minnesota State High School League will decide if winter sports will have state competitions Feb. 4 in its next board of directors meeting.
There were no state competitions for fall sports.
Section 2AA is strong again, starting with top-ranked Eden Prairie, winners of the last two crowns and three of the last four. Minnetonka, Holy Family and Chaska are also strong contenders.
In the win over seventh-ranked Lakeville North, the Lakers led 3-0 after two periods and never looked back. Juniors Justin Simonson and Riley Dueber also had goals.
Rice, seniors Will Magnuson, Aidan Emerson and Ryan Hadland and Bennett Soderberg and junior Justin Kingery each had one assist.
In beating Farmington, Emerson, Soderberg, Hadland, juniors Zack Schmidt Blake Dicke and senior Braydon Buckingham each had goals for Prior Lake.
Schumacher and senior Marco Bianchi each finished with two assists, while Dueber, Rice, Buckingham, Schmidt, Kingery, Bump, junior Jackson Anderson and senior Keegan Masser all had one.