Owatonna High School adapted floor hockey coach John Scheil says defense is a big reason why the Huskies will play at the state tournament beginning Friday.

Scheil tells KRFO, "I think the story has been some awesome defense. We've really been working on our defensive zone and our schemes. And if you look at the scores, we've held most of the teams in check with five or less goals a game." Owatonna (10-3) has limited their opponent to five goals or less in nine of their 10 wins, and has three shutouts on the season.

The Huskies are the second seed from the south for the state tournament and play Maple Grove (8-4-1, third seed from the north) at 6:30PM Friday, March 17, at Bloomington Jefferson High School, as shown in the Minnesota State High School League bracket. The tournament continues Saturday.

OHS came in third place last season. They graduated seniors Alex Burns, an all-tournament team player, and Elizabeth Crawford. Junior Zach Sencer was also named to the all-tournament team last year and leads the Huskies with 61 points. Scheil says a number of players have stepped up this season to help make up for Burns' scoring from last year.

Junior Taylor Hagen is one of them. "She's just on the puck. Go. Go. Go. She's really figured out how to get that puck into position to score, which is a benefit to Zach." Seventh-grader Chloe Talley has about 15 points. Scheil says she "knows where to be on the court."

Senior goalie Nolan Engebretson played very well during Owatonna's playoff win last week, Scheil said. The team has added some fun scrimmages to their practice schedule this week, squaring off with junior high teachers one day and their parents on another. The school held a send-off for the squad on Wednesday.

Scheil hopes the team can get off to a good start and get through any nervousness right away, "I think there's going to be a lot. If you ask the kids, they'd say, 'No. We got this.' Historically we're a team that likes to start kind of slow and then once we get going, we're good."

This is Owatonna's 17th appearance at the state adapted floor hockey tournament, according to the high school league's records. The Huskies won the title in 2004 and have been runner-up a couple of times.