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Storm boys keep pushing into 2011

The Morris Benson Area boys' hockey team joined the Southwest Conference in 2009-2010 and finished in second place with an 8-4 record.

Overall, the Storm ended the schedule 11-12-1 and lost their first game in the Section 6A playoffs.

Coach Jim Kennedy said being part of a conference adds incentive for the players.

"Our schedule used to be essentially meaningless," Kennedy said. "Now we're playing for something."

The Storm loses four seniors to graduation this spring.

Goalie Alex Sinclair of Morris guarded the Storm's net in 19 games. He finished the season 9-9-1 with an .880 save percentage.

"Alex jumped into the starting position and worked his tail off," said Kennedy. "He often won games single-handedly."

Josh Taylor was the other Morris senior on the roster.

"Josh really didn't play much in his first years," said Kennedy. "He stuck it out and I was proud of him.

"He's not a flashy player, but a great kid to have in the locker room."

Defensemen Jake Manska and Thomas Horecka are Benson seniors.

"Jake is a really hard worker," said Kennedy. "He leads by example.

"Thomas took the younger defensemen under his wing," added Kennedy. "He's an all-around team player."

Returning next season are all the top scorers. Tyler Hansen led the Storm with 28 goals and 12 assists; Tanner Picht had 15 goals and 16 assists; Kelly Engquist scored nine goals and assisted on 15; Luke Schwarz had 14 goals and seven assists; Mac Beyer recorded seven goals and 14 assists; and Ethan Ratliff-Crain had four goals and 12 assists.

Other players returning next season include defensemen Tristan Michealson, Jake Huston, Brady Valnes, and Isaac Berens, along with forwards, Andrew Rentz and Tanner Kirkeide. Stepping up to the net will be goalies Matt Huot and Andrew Fath, who each played in five games this season.

Kennedy said the team will keep pushing next season.

"The players have a lot to learn about playing consistently," Kennedy said. "Many players want to be the heroes. When times get tough, we try to do too many things.

"I encourage them to own a role and stick with it."

Kennedy does feel that 2010-2011 could be the Storm's year to do something special.

"All the personalites together is going to be a good thing," he said. "It's all one big puzzle and everybody plays a piece."