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Tonka Is Back

Minnetonka boys hockey dominates opening tournament.

Minnetonka put up a 4-0 lead over Andover through two periods on Nov. 25, 2023. The Skippers won the game 8-0. (MHM Photo / Heather Rule)

Blasting out of the speakers in the Minnetonka boys hockey locker room at Pagel Ice Arena on Saturday night wasn’t a tune from this century. No hip-hop or country. Still, it seemed like a good one to fit the mood:

“Right Back Where We Started From” by Maxine Nightingale, which was released in the 1970s.

Whether coincidence or part of a set playlist, the song seems fitting for a deep Minnetonka Skippers team that returned a bunch of key players from last winter’s dominant Class 2A state championship team.

Only two games in, Minnetonka turned in a couple of dominating efforts on its home ice, outscoring Rosemount and Andover by a combined 18-3 margin. The Skippers put up a 10-3 victory over Rosemount to open the season Friday before an 8-0 shutout of Andover, a program it met in last year’s state semifinals (though this time without the since-graduated line featuring Cooper Conway, Gavyn Thorsen and Cayden Casey).

With so many state champions – and multiple Division I commits – returning to Minnetonka’s squad this season, Skippers coach Sean Goldsworthy acknowledged that his team isn’t starting from square one.

“First off, they’re committed to each other,” Goldsworthy said. “So, when they all come back, it makes things easier on each other. We have a lot of returning kids from a team that had great success last year. So that matters.”

Minnetonka comes into the season as a top-ranked team, according to the preseason rankings from Let’s Play Hockey magazine, while Andover is ranked No. 10. And the Skippers shut out the Huskies while outshooting them 42-5 on Saturday evening.

Minnetonka and Andover boys hockey shake hands after the Skippers won 8-0 on Nov. 25, 2023 at Pagel Ice Arena as part of the Tonka Thanksgiving Preview tournament. (MHM Photo / Heather Rule)

Senior Javon Moore had hat tricks both days, giving him a team-leading six goals and 10 points through just two games. His effort against Andover was highlighted by a breakaway, shorthanded goal in the first period. His second hat trick in as many games came with just more than 10 minutes left in regulation, sending the game to running time with a 6-0 lead.

Moore is followed by the senior Garry brothers; Luke with two goals and five assists and Gavin with three goals and four assists. Against Rosemount, the Garry brothers scored goals 50 seconds apart for a 2-1 lead. Gavin recorded a hat trick, and senior Hagen Burrows added five assists on Friday.

Depth? They have that, too. A dozen players have at least a point on those 18 goals over two games.

The goal right now, Goldsworthy said, is to “get the fall hockey out of them,” which usually takes eight to 10 games, he added.

“I think what you’re seeing is these kids are committed to getting it out of their system in about four or five games,” Goldsworthy said.

Minnetonka lost only twice last season, to Chanhassen and Wayzata, on the way to a state championship. Even though it’s cliché, staying in the moment throughout the season helped drive that successful title run, Goldsworthy said.

“You’ve got to stay in the week,” Goldsworthy said. “That’s what we did last year. These kids know when they do that, our success came from living in the moment.”

Despite the shutout loss, Andover split its games in the Tonka tourney, defeating No. 3-ranked Chanhassen 3-2 on Friday behind a pair of Casey Rodgers goals. The Huskies came into the season looking to replace the production of its top line from 2022-23; Conway-Thoreson-Casey scored 65% of the team’s 167 goals last season.

Chanhassen, which fell an overtime-goal short of the state tournament with a loss to Minnetonka last year, starts the season 0-2 with a one-goal loss to Andover and a 2-1 loss to Rosemount on Saturday. The Storm, who hit the ice just before the school’s football team took the field at U.S. Bank Stadium on the way to a thrilling Prep Bowl championship, trailed the entire game before getting a goal in the final minute of regulation.

Thanksgiving means puck drop on boys hockey
Most of the boys hockey teams got started with their seasons over the weekend. After the turkey coma ends, hockey players and fans head to various rinks on Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend for regular-season hockey and various holiday tournaments.

On the same night that Edina’s football team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Centennial in the Class 6A Prep Bowl, the No. 2-ranked Edina Hornets – last season’s runner-up in hockey – shut out No. 8-ranked Maple Grove 3-0 in the Wayzata Turkey Trot at Plymouth Ice Center. Wayzata started its season off with a pair of victories against No. 7-ranked Moorhead (6-1) and Maple Grove (6-4) in its home Turkey Trot.

White Bear Lake opened its season with a 4-3 overtime victory over Duluth East at home. Nolan Roed scored a pair of goals, including the winner at 2:37 of the extra session.

In Class 1A, last year’s runner-up Warroad lost 3-2 in overtime to St. Cloud Cathedral. Griffin Sturm scored the winner just before the final horn in overtime. Murray Marvin-Cordes scored both Warroad goals.

Heather's love for watching hockey started when the Minnesota Wild came to town in 2000. Before that, she caught a few Minnesota Moose games as a youngster, and more recently she's kept up with the Austin Bruins and Fargo Force. She's a writer, freelance journalist and blogger who previously worked as a news reporter in Austin and Fergus Falls, Minn. She enjoys watching sports and closely follows the Wild, Minnesota Twins, IndyCar Series, tennis and prep sports. Heather keeps up her sports blog Thoughts from the Stands. You can follow her on Twitter/X @hlrule or Instagram @hlrule.

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