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Metro boys hockey previews

Moorhead - Coach: Dave Morinville (sixth year) - 2001-2002 record: 23-5-2, sixth at Class 2A state tournament - Key players lost: Chad Beiswenger, G; Scott Bjorklund, F; D.J. Yarber, F; Jim Marcy, D; Eric Stavenger, D; Kevim Smith, F; Matt Hayek, F.

Moorhead

- Coach: Dave Morinville (sixth year)

- 2001-2002 record: 23-5-2, sixth at Class 2A state tournament

- Key players lost: Chad Beiswenger, G; Scott Bjorklund, F; D.J. Yarber, F; Jim Marcy, D; Eric Stavenger, D; Kevim Smith, F; Matt Hayek, F.

- Key players back: Jace Foss, Sr., D; Bryan Becker, Sr., F.

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- Team notes: The Spuds (3-0-0) lost 15 seniors to graduation, including six three-year letterwinners, and 105 of last season's 123 goals. Despite that, they're ranked No. 7 and have legitimate hopes for a third consecutive 20-win, section championship season. "We haven't had guys leaving for Juniors, and that's a credit to their loyalty to our program," Morinville said. ... Led by current junior forwards Nolan Oliver and Brian Gifford, Moorhead's JV team went unbeaten last season. ... Morinville hopes to avoid putting the onus on a young defense and first-year starting goalie Sam Walstad by applying length-of-the-ice pressure. "The whole team plays defense," he said. "We don't back off." ... After outscoring opponents 16-4 in three home games to open the season, the Spuds play Tuesday at Roseau before starting another three-game homestand. The tradeoff? Moorhead closes the season with seven consecutive road contests.

Boys

Fargo North Spartans

- Coach: Don Smith (10th year)

- 2001-2002 record: 20-3-3

- Key players lost: Brent Klava, F; Aaron Walski, G; Jeremy Flaig, D; Travis Almquist, D; Brian Halvorson, F; Greg Skjoiten, F; Justin Carey, F; Brady Brolin, F; Ryan Jasper, D; Jade Wanzek, D; Dan Westerholm, D; Reid Kittelson, F; Aaron Broman, F.

- Key players back: Cory Loos, So., F; Pat Cichos, Sr., F; Kristian Rommesmo, Jr., F; Jon Halstenson, So., D; Zac Taylor, Jr., D.

- Team notes: The Spartans graduated 13 seniors off last year's team, which won the East Region regular season and tournament championships. ... North has nine sophomores on the varsity roster this season. "We're just trying to get everybody into that same system and it's just that teaching process," Smith said. "We think we have some very skilled players, but they're so young. It's going to take some time for them to become stars in the state of North Dakota." ... Smith said Grand Forks Central is the East Region favorite "hands down." He also expects Grand Forks Red River and Fargo South to be strong.

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Fargo South Bruins

- Coach: Dean Wilson (13th year)

- 2001-2002 record: 12-10

- Key players lost: Tom Kennedy, F; Cole Hornstein, D; Andrew Overby, D; Lee Baldwin, G.

- Key players back: Luke Brehmer, Jr., D; Caleb Luecke, So., D; Chris Bergh, Sr., D; C.J. Bernabucci, Sr., F; Dustin Olson, Sr., F; Tyler Dalbey, So., F; Justin Mauch, Jr., F; Ryan Nelson, Jr., F; Justin Foss. So., F; Stew Leitch, Sr., G.

- Team notes: Wilson said he likes the makeup of his team. "I think we've got some good balance," Wilson said. "We work hard and we work together. We have a lot of new faces who are going to be in some key roles." ... Wilson said he expects Grand Forks Central and Grand Forks Red River to be the top two teams in the East Region. "I think after that, it's going to be a dog fight," Wilson added. ... The Bruins lost two key players when seniors Jared Bye and Tyler Magura decided to play junior hockey. ... The Bruins have already earned a key region victory, earning a 3-1 road decision against defending state champion Grafton earlier in the week. "We had to work hard for that one," Wilson said.

West Fargo Packers

- Coach: Ross Richards (12th year)

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- 2001-2002 record: 9-15

- Key players lost: Derek Miller, D; Josh Swangler, F.

- Key players back: Bryan Huso, Sr., C; Nick Reinisch, Sr., G; Tanner Anderson, Sr., D; Tyler Dockter, Sr., F; Ryan Evenson, Sr., F; Jordan Kelly, Sr., F.

- Team notes: Reinisch enters his second season as the full-time starter in net. He also saw action as a freshman and sophomore. Reinisch was a first-team, all-state selection for the Class 3A state football champion Packers in the fall... West Fargo has yet to qualify for the state tournament. ... Richards said he sees Grand Forks Central as the favorite in the East Region, but feels his team can make an impact in the conference. "On paper, I think we match up well with just about every team," Richards said. "What we need to have on the ice is the willingness to show up and play every game. We've got an awful lot of team speed and defensively we look very strong."

Fargo Shanley Deacons

- Co-coaches: Rick Burggraf, Frank Burggraf and Tim Graveline (first year)

- Players to watch: Brad Vesta, Jr., F; Brent Vesta, Sr., D; Mark Zerr, Sr., F: Brandon Nilson, Sr., G; Kyle Graalum, Jr., F; Elliot Hitt, Jr., F; Peter Fylling, Jr., F; Butch Blahosky, Jr., F; Patrick Tillisch, Jr., F.

- Team notes: The Deacons are fielding their own varsity hockey team for the first time in 13 years. Shanley had been paired with West Fargo since the early 1990s. ... Shanley isn't scheduled to play its first varsity game until mid-January due to North Dakota High School Activities Association eligibility issues with some of its transfer players. "We expect to be competitive," Graveline said. "Our goal is to be more fundamentally sound than any team out there from top to bottom. Our season conists of a lot of practices up front and a lot of games on the back." ... The Deacons have a unique coaching situation with three co-head coaches. "It's working out fine because we're all in it for the same reason; to develop hockey players," Graveline said. "Every decision we make is by committee."

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