Floor hockey team has good numbers as season gets underway

With 26 athletes, the New Prague Trojan Floor Hockey team, which includes students from Tri-City United, Jordan and Belle Plaine high schools, is looking forward to another successful season.

With such a high number of athletes, the squad will again be able to field a junior varsity team, giving younger, more experienced athletes, a chance to learn the sport and develop their skills.

Shellie Kriha returns as coach, with Jeremy Kalal and Steve Kriha as assistants. Support staff includes Diane Johnson and Connie Jensen and student managers are Reilly Carey, Brookelyn Skluzacek and Brandon Zeilinger.

The team qualified for last year’s state tournament, where they went 0-2, and Coach Kriha is looking for good things again this year.

"We have five new players this year, ranging from seventh through 12th grade. We hope to quickly get new players in positions and ready to play at a high level. We hope to finish as always in the top of our conference and advance to the State Tournament after winning a home playoff game.

Key returnees for this year’s team include senior Jake Schurman (Jordan) and freshman Blake Perry (TCU).

"Jake has been playing defense at the varsity level since seventh grade and has stepped up to become a team leader both on and off of the court," Kriha said. "We will also have sophomore Garrett Gagner (New Prague) and senior Alexis Parks (Jordan) return as a forwards to lead the offense. Sophomore Seth Dorner (NP) has returned from injury on offense along with eighth graders Chase Smith (NP) and Dylan Raaen (NP), who will help solidify our offense. Senior Eva Johnson (NP) and Junior Lydia Hayle (NP) will also see some time at the varsity level.”

Kriha said Gagner is playing center for his first time this year and will be a great addition on offense. "We will have also added eighth grader Evan Minar (NP) at the varsity level who will be able to help out both on offense and defense. We have also added a new goalie, eighth grader Breanna Stark (Jordan) who has stepped in and shown good skills! This will be her first year, both in floor hockey and as a goalie, but she has jumped right in and worked hard. She has made great progress in just one week of practice.”

The team graduated goalie Noah Hayden and Center Charlie Zeilinger from last season, and Kriha said those will be some big shoes to fill.

"We have been very satisfied during the early weeks of practice at the way the new players have stepped in and really worked hard to learn their role," Kriha said. "They are excited to play and be productive members of this team. All of our new players have improved significantly since the first day of practice. "

She added that the team’s goal is to finish in the top half of the conference and win a home playoff game, which means a trip to the state tournament.

South Washington County, the defending conference champion, will be the toughest team on the Trojans’ schedule. Kriha said Owatonna will also be strong, and in the northern conference, North Suburban, the defending state champion, and Anoka Hennepin are the teams to beat.

"We hope to finish in the top four of our conference," Kriha said.

New Prague was scheduled to start their season Wednesday, Jan. 10, at home against South Suburban. They will be at Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville on Wednesday, Jan. 17, at McGuire Middle School at 4:30 p.m., and host Owatonna at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23. Home games are played at the Central Education Campus gym in New Prague.

This year’s roster

Seniors Zack Crawford, Dylan Edberg, Eva Johnson, Alexis Parks, Chris Pena, Jake Schurman, Nicholas Welter,

Juniors John Carson, Lydia Hayle, Tomy He, Alex Miland

Sophomores Evan Chodeck, Seth Dorner, Garett Gagner, Dani Jorgensen

Freshmen Kailyn Geredis, Ethan Minar, Blake Perry

Eighth grade Evan Minar, Dylan Raaen, Chase Smith, Breanna Stark

Seventh grade Aaron Adamson,Harrison Bastow, Shane Friedrich, Jeffrey Teal

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