Huskies boys hockey coach Josh Storm focused on honoring the 2016-17 seniors during the Blue Line Club banquet Tuesday at the Owatonna Country Club.

Storm spoke at length about each senior, in their numerical order. He complimented Cameron Trout on his team-first approach to the game. John Swenson's versatility was crucial during a time when injuries to other players forced him move from defense to forward. Storm joked that Swenson could probably have put on goalie pads if the situation called for it.

Carter Broton had a breakout season. After three total goals over his previous two seasons, he led the team with 18 this past season and added 12 assists. Kodey Kiel turned in a tenacious effort in the section playoff game and always played well in the big games, Storm said. Mitchell Mayer was a great character influence on the team and a top-notch overall athlete. Storm said Adam Rehman was a great playmaker who handed out 15 assists in addition to his seven goals. Joey Howell was a joyful guy to have on the team, who just wanted to play hockey and switched from goalie to forward to continue playing. Storm said Blake Pfieffer's commitment to the team was appreciated.

Owatonna's Big Nine scholar athletes, with a GPA of at least 3.65, included Howell, Kiel, Mayer and Trout. Broton and Tyler Wencl were named to the Big Nine All-Conference team. Honorable mention was awarded to Rehman, Swenson, Mayer, Mitchell Wiese and Nate Smith.

The Hobey Baker character award was presented to Mayer. Rehman picked up the Patrick Arnfelt scholarship. Kiel was named the Ken Wilcox award winner for his attitude of putting the team above himself, plus his work with youth hockey and conduct and respect for the game.

The Dudley Otto most-improved honor went to  Walker Nelson. Swenson won the Ken Austin award for his leadership, dedication and hustle. Rehman was voted by his teammates as the Lee Harra most valuable senior.

Storm said 15 wins exceeded his predictions for the season after the Huskies graduated most of their goal scorers and senior defensemen off the 2015-16 team. Game highlights included the win at Farmington and sweeping John Marshall and Mayo. Storm liked how the team won at Northfield, who took the Big Nine title and advanced to state, after having the apparent go-ahead goal waived off, then prevailing in overtime. He also highlighted the playoff win over Rochester Century, after losing to the Panthers twice during the regular season.

Storm was even more pleased with the off-ice highlights. Teammates' quick thinking during preseason captains practice saved a teammate who had been cut by a skate blade. Players assisted a wheelchair-bound fan and former player into the stands at Albert Lea. Storm also fielded multiple compliments about the players during the team's holiday tournament trip to Duluth.

Owatonna compiled a 15-12 record, as indicated by The Big Nine Conference website shows OHS finishing fourth in the standings.The junior varsity went 12-9-1, taking the JV championship in Duluth. On a personal note, I enjoyed emceeing the Blue Line Club banquet and appreciate all the assistance and support from the coaching staff and fans during the hockey season.

submitted photo by Brenda Swenson

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