After a sweep of the Rochester teams, the Owatonna Huskies have to look west to find the biggest contenders for the Big Nine Conference boys hockey race. Specifically, the Mankato West Scarlets, who lead the standings at 6-1 and come to Four Seasons Centre to play Owatonna Tuesday, February 9 at 7:15 pm. Hear the action on Kat Kountry 105 FM and the Kat Kountry app.

Owatonna (5-1) beat Northfield (5-1) and lost to Mankato East (5-1) among teams that seem to have the best chance at a league title. Three-time defending Big Nine champ Century is 3-4. Apparently only the first meeting of the season between teams will count toward the conference standings.

OHS last won the Big Nine in the 1992-93 season, their second straight title at the time. West won conference championships in 2007-08, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

West's only loss this season is 4-0  to Mankato East last week. The Scarlets have only allowed five total goals in the other six games combined. They return their goalie, senior Caleb Cross, from last season and four of their top six scorers. West made it to the Section 1A final last winter before losing to Mankato East.

The Scarlets are led by senior Brandon Swenson (4 goals-11 assists=15 points), senior Ethan Fox (4-8=12) and junior Gavin Brunmeier (7-3=10). Cross is 6-1 in goal with a 1.12 goals against and .946 saves percentage plus two shutouts.

The Huskies return all of their top scorers from last season, but graduated All-Conference net minder Zach Wiese. OHS coach Josh Storm has been pleased about the play of both True Gieseke and Preston Meier this season.

OHS is led by senior Casey Anderson (1-10=11), junior Taylor Bogen (7-3=10), and senior Dom Valento (2-6=8). Gieseke is 3-1 with a 2.50 goals against and .877 saves percentage with one shutout. Meier is 2-0 with 2.50 goals against and .868 saves percentage.

Storm said, "It's a really big game on Tuesday evening and the rest of the conference games coming out...They (West) look pretty good to me. I think that East started to overwhelm them a little bit." Storm likes his team's size and speed and hopes the team can continue with the great effort they have shown in recent games.

The Huskies have gone 7-0-1 against Mankato West over the last five seasons which includes a couple of match-ups in the Heritage Tournament in Duluth. Owatonna won last year's game 5-1.

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