Having Alex Kaminsky in goal is a comfort.
The senior netminder will be the last line of defense for the DeForest boys’ hockey co-op in 2021-22.
“We have a strong senior goalie, who will help our defensive game tremendously,” said Head Coach Brent Richter, who is heading into his third season behind the bench for the program. “We expect not only to have a great performance from our leader, Alex Kaminsky, but also see a captain’s leadership.”
Richter is 7-17-1 as the co-op’s coach, and he has a wealth of young players to work with this year, as the co-op competes in a newly realigned Badger East Conference. There is reason for optimism, despite losing letterwinners Bryce Jacobsen, Carson Richter and Finn Melchior.
“We have high hopes for the team this year,” said Richter. “The team hopes to be competitive in conference and have a winning season. We are in a new conference this year and will be experiencing playing some new teams. We hope to be in the upper half of the conference.”
Richter said player development will be crucial.
“If the team can continue to work hard in being successful in the offensive zone and keep the puck out of the defensive zone, we will have a successful season,” said Richter.
Along with Kaminsky, returning letterwinners for the co-op – players come from DeForest, Lodi, Poynette, Columbus, Lake Mills and Waterloo – include Alex Rashid, Bobby Shaw, Preston Nichols, Cole Wright and Gabe Larson.
Rashid, Shaw, Nichols, Larson, Dean Rupert and Avery O’Dea all were key offensive performers for the co-op last year, and they’re all back.
“Offensively, our team needs to take more shots and put more pucks on the net,” said Richter. “We utilize basic offensive strategies but finding options in high percentage areas will be the key to our success. The team this year has two solid forward lines, which is our strength. But also, our younger developing forwards is something we plan to build on.”
Wright and Sam Bachman are experienced returning defensemen.
“We play a fairly simple center low support system,” said Richter. “Our objective is to prevent the other team from taking shots and also keep the other team out of the slot area. Our defensive core is young with only one senior. Development of the defensive players will be extremely important this year, and we hope to see a high level of improvement of them throughout the year.”
Young members of the co-op will have to grow up fast, as the co-op looks to develop strong team chemistry.
“Our weakness at this point is that we have a lot of kids who have never played together before, as we have players from six different schools in our coop,” said Richter. “Finding ways for them to come together as a team, especially on their individual lines will be an important component of finding success.”
Richter feels players like Rashid, Nichols, Shaw and Kaminsky could have breakout seasons. The team’s forwards will be counted on to lead the way, along with Kaminsky. Depth could be a concern, however.
“Our conference consists of DeForest, Beaver Dam, McFarland, Milton, Monona Grove, Stoughton and Waunakee,” said Richter. “We expect Waunakee to be the strongest team in conference. The rest of the teams are fairly unknown this year as last year was a very different kind of year where we didn’t see many of these teams. We believe the conference runner-up could be any of the other teams.”
Richter expects the team to work hard and “have an insatiable hunger to win.” The team hasn’t won a conference game since February, 2017, but Richter said co-op plans on changing that this year.