Northfield boys hockey's seniors ready to lead the Section charge - Northfield MN: Local

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Northfield boys hockey's seniors ready to lead the Section charge

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Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 10:44 am | Updated: 8:32 am, Wed Feb 20, 2013.

To get an understanding of what Thursday’s Section matchup against either Albert Lea or La Crescent means to the Raiders, you have to back up to before winter. Before a lot of winters actually.

Try more like 10 winters ago.

For the 12 seniors on this year’s No. 4-seeded Northfield squad, that’s when many started playing together. Since then they’ve seen their fair share of ups and downs, including last season’s trip to – and eventual defeat in – the Section final game.

This year that same group has often taken to Twitter after victories to reiterate what those who follow the team have known for a while: there’s just one goal left to achieve.

“Growing up this has been our dream,” senior Andrew Scofield said. “Since we’ve been playing in the streets, in cul-de-sacs: it’s to make the state tournament.”

To get there Northfield will have to navigate the ever-rocky Section 1A tournament, with a potential rematch against No. 1-seeded Rochester Lourdes looming in the semifinals.

“It’s just constantly reminding them…we need to attack the playoffs like it’s the start of a new season,” coach Bryce Barry said. “You remember how back in November you were so excited to be back in the rink and earn your spot. No one has any goals, assists or anything. Let’s go out and prove ourselves every game, shift and period.”

Seniors in the drivers’ seat

 

Statistics offer a starting point. Things like the class of 2013 accounting for just shy of 60 percent of Northfield’s points this season, and 99 percent of its saves in net.

That can give you a general sense of what the Raiders’ bumper crop of seniors has given Northfield in the regular season, but especially in the playoffs their impact will be even harder to measure.

“Their work ethic, their drive; the other kids feed off of that,” Barry said. “[Senior Taylor] Freiermuth comes to mind; he’s constantly going hard in practices and games. The way the seniors handle stuff when we do a film session. I don’t know how much vocal stuff they’ve had…but the other kids are getting it from what they do.”

After winning two out of every three games this year it’s clear Northfield is far from barren in its younger ranks (two of its top three point-scorers – Logan Von Ruden and Nate Scofield – are juniors). It doesn’t take much though to discern the huge importance this year’s senior class has to the Raiders’ playoff chances, and how much a deep run would mean to them.

“I’ve been looking at these faces the last 10 years of my hockey career. You get pretty used to these guys,” senior Alex Morsching said. “There’s something a lot more special about teams that play with each other their whole career. You look at some private schools that come together when they’re freshmen, and I think that’s something we may have an advantage on some teams in our Section about. We’ve played with each other so long and this is all we’ve worked for, to make the state tournament. It would be a great way to end our senior year.”

“That’s the reason I wanted to come back and play [senior year],” Scofield said of making the state tournament. “We’re going to make a hard run at it.”

A winning formula

 

While there are 12 seniors on the team, the key to Northfield’s chances of touching down their blades at the Xcel Energy Center centers on the number 10. Every game Barry and his coaching staff lay out a 10-objective list; the formula from there is pretty simple.

“Every time we’re at five out of 10 or above, we’ve won,” Barry said. “Every time it’s below we’ve either lost, or pulled out a win in overtime. If everyone on the team contributes to the 10…we’re going to be alright.”

That recipe could potentially face its toughest test of the year in a semifinals matchup with Rochester Lourdes, but the Raiders are optimistic that if they get through round one they have a chance to jump on the team that knocked them out last year.

“That puts less pressure on us [facing them in the semifinals and not the finals],” Scofield said. “It will come down to who wants it more. If it comes down to it we can beat them.”

“Whoever we play, if we go in with the right mentality we’re going to be fine,” Barry said. “I like the matchup with Lourdes, if we can get there. We’re going to be ready to play them.”

Reach Sports Editor Jordan Osterman at 645-1111, or follow him on Twitter.com @NFNJordan.

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