Storm boys end rebuilding year
The Morris Benson Area Storm boys hockey program wrapped up a solid rebuilding season, getting a home playoff game in the first round against No. 9 seeded Fairmont and falling to No. 1 seeded Luverne in the second round of Section 3A play.
Head coach Jeremiah Day and assistant coach Tony Schultz coached the Storm to an overall record 9-17.
In his first year as head coach for the boys program, Day was confident that the boys had the talent to compete; it just took awhile for the boys to believe it themselves.
The beginning of the season looked grim for the Storm, fighting loss after loss, going 0-11 in the 2013 portion of their season.
“It got to the point that all I was asking for Christmas was a win,” Day chuckled. “It was getting to be tough, I don’t know if any of us thought we were going to win a game–I sure questioned it for a little while.”
In the 2014 portion, however, the Storm did find that first “W” against Windom Area on Jan. 11.
“Getting that first win [in Windom] was a huge relief,” Day said. “It’s always nice to get that first W under your belt. It alleviates some pressure and makes us skate with more confidence, knowing we can compete with these teams...That’s exactly what we needed.”
The Storm had a record of 8-5-1 in the 2014 portion of the season before playoffs, winning games against multiple opponents: Worthington, Breckenridge / Wahpeton, Red Lake Falls, Redwood Valley, and Wadena Deer Creek.
“The second half of our season, we really started playing like I knew we could all along,” Day said. “It just took us a little while for the boys to build up the confidence and believe in themselves to compete with these other teams. We had the talent, just needed to play our game like we knew how.”
The captains for the Storm squad were Lincoln Pahl, Corey Storck, and Tanner Mikkelson. The captains role of the team plays a huge part during the season, especially during low moments, and coach Day said he couldn’t be happier for what this years group of captains and seniors did for this Storm team in the 2013-2014 season.
“I really appreciate what a captain can do for a team,” Day started. “Especially when you’ve lost a lot of games and the locker room is looking a little bleak. That’s when we lean on our captains and our seniors to help pull us through to keep things rolling when times are tough, and they did an excellent job with that this year.”
The Storm had 31 players between junior varsity and varsity program this season. The Storm graduates five seniors from regular varsity rotation: Pahl, Storck, Ethan Stahman, Mikkelson, and Chad Schwarz.
“All these guys did a great job,” Day said. “They stepped up a lot throughout this season and next year we’ll have some holes to fill, but luckily we have numbers to do that.”
Storck was the second point leader for the Storm this season with 12 goals and 14 assists.
Pahl contributed five goals and nine assists on the year, while Mikkelson also had five goals and eight assists. Schwarz also had five assists on the year.
The Storm program will be survived by a slew of juniors, including point leader Taner Gimberlin who contributed 17 goals and 11 assists returning to the program as a senior next season. Also returning will be a handful of next season juniors and current freshman Tony Bruns, who was this years starting goalie for the Storm, saving over 650 pucks and ending the season with a 87 percent save percentage in net.
“Things look good for next season,” Day said. “If the guys work on some things in the off season, we’ll be ready to pick up where we left off.”
The Storm award recipients were named and honored at the Morris Area / Chokio-Alberta winter sports banquet on Monday, March 10. They included Chad Schwarz (Storm award), Taner Gimberlin (MVP), Tony Bruns (Defensive MVP), and Bo Olson (Hustle award) who also received an all conference honorable mention.
Senior Lincoln Pahl also received the Hobey Baker award this hockey season.
“If there were more awards I could give them, I would,” coach Day said. “We had a great season, and hoping next year is even better.”