Hockey celebrate

Members of the Owatonna boys hockey team celebrate after a Dom Valento goal against Farmington last season. Valento is part of a nine-player senior class this season for the Huskies. (File Photo/southernminn.com)

VARSITY ROSTER

Sam Sampson, forward, senior

Joseph Bellomy, forward/defense, senior

Wyatt Oldefendt, defense, senior

True Gieseke, goalie, senior

Casey Johnson, forward, senior

Dom Valento, forward, senior

Brody Homan, defense, senior

Zach Kubicek, forward, senior

Aaron Bangs, forward, senior

Tanner Stendel, forward, junior

Caleb Vereide, forward, junior

Preston Meier, goalie, junior

Ashton Hoffman, forward, junior

Casey Pederson, forward, junior

Levi Kubicek, forward, junior

Joey Dub, defense, junior

Taylor Bogen, forward, junior

Devon Roush, defense, junior

Jack Sande, defense, junior

Sam Knoll, defense, junior

Grant Achterkirch, defense, junior

2021 SCHEDULE

Jan. 14 — at Austin, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 16 — vs. Faribault, 3:30 p.m.

Jan. 21 — at Rochester Mayo, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 23 — vs. Mankato East, 3 p.m.

Jan. 28 — vs. Northfield, 7 p.m.

Jan. 30 — vs. Rochester John Marshall, 3 p.m.

Feb. 2 — at Rochester Century, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 4 — vs. Red Wing, 7 p.m.

Feb. 9 — vs. Mankato West, 7 p.m.

Feb. 11 — at Winona, 7:15 p.m.

Feb. 18 — vs. Gentry Academy, 7 p.m.

Feb. 20 — at Minnetonka, 4 p.m.

Feb. 25 — at Mankato East, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27 — vs. Rochester Century, 7 p.m.

March 2 — at Albert Lea, 7:15 p.m.

March 4 — at Northfield, 7:15 p.m.

March 8 — vs. Rochester Mayo, 7 p.m.

March 11 — at Rochester John Marshall, 7:15 p.m.

KEY MATCHUPS

Jan. 16 vs. Faribault — In a Big 9 Conference that figures to be a more wide-open race after the major graduation losses at Rochester Century, the second game of the season for both Owatonna and Faribault should be an early barometer of where each team fits into the new conference landscape. In last season’s only matchup, the Huskies scored four consecutive goals to claim a 5-2 victory after the Falcons initially surged ahead 2-1 early in the second period. Both teams will be replacing nearly all of their experience in net this season, while Owatonna will be boosted by the return of senior forwards Dom Valento (20 goals, 22 assists last season) and Zach Kubicek (23 goals, 17 assists last season). Faribault, meanwhile, returns senior forward Zach Siegert (25 goals, 15 assists), junior forward Zack Slinger (16 goals, 7 assists) and senior forward/defenseman Jordan Nawrocki (13 goals, 18 assists). This will be the only matchup between the two teams this season.

Jan. 28 vs. Northfield — With a potential down year from three-time defending Big 9 Conference champion Rochester Century, last season’s second-place team (Owatonna) and third-place team (Northfield) will both by vying to leap to the top of the Big 9 Conference. Owatonna swept last season’s two-game set with the help of a 4-3 overtime win in Owatonna, and three of the last four games between these two geographic rivals have been decided by only one goal. This might also be a matchup of the best senior forwards the Big 9 has to offer. The Huskies feature the fearsome tandem of Dom Valento (20 goals, 22 assists) and Zach Kubicek (23 goals, 17 assists), while the Raiders will counter with Carson Van Zuilen (15 goals, 38 assists), who rapidly climbed up the all-time state assist leaderboard. These two teams will also play March 4 in Northfield.

Feb. 2 at Rochester Century — Speaking of the Panthers, it’s probably foolish to write them off until others prove they have the ability to surpass them. Rochester Century didn’t lose a conference game the last two seasons, but Owatonna did pull off a 3-2 overtime victory in the Section 1AA quarterfinals. The reason for the question marks surrounding the Panthers is because of how dominant their seniors were last season. Joey Malugani and Lyncoln Bielenberg-Howarth tallied 69 and 68 points last year, respectively. Junior forward Aidan Swee is the leading returning scorer from last season, and registered 14 goals and 22 points, which was only the fifth-highest total on the team. Rochester Century also graduates its primary goalie, Tim Pundt. Someone will have to beat the Panthers to knock them off the throne, and the Huskies have as good a shot as anyone this season. These two teams will also play Feb. 27 in Rochester.

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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