The New Richmond and Somerset boys' hockey teams both started the season with extremely young lineups. But the growth both teams made during the season showed in the All-Middle Border Conference listing. Four Tigers earned All-MBC honors and three Spartans were named to the team.
Seniors Hayden Bradbury and Max Davis were leaned on heavily in their leadership roles for the Tigers and both were rewarded with all-conference honors. So were junior Garrett Thomas and freshman Sam Olson. Bradbury and Olson were first team choices with Davis and Thomas being honorable mention choices.
Bradbury was the leading goal scorer in MBC games. Bradbury led the Tigers with 31 goals scored this season and 44 points. His hard-charging offensive style produced goals in clusters. He twice scored five goals in a game. That included a seven-point performance when he led the Tigers to a 7-6 playoff win over River Falls.
"With the younger guys (on the team), Hayden took the bull by the horns. Hayden was our offensive leader," said Tiger coach Zach Kier.
Olson led the young guns on the Tigers. He ranked second on the team in scoring with eight goals and nine assists. He bloomed when he was put on a line with Bradbury.
"There's not many freshman all-conference players and he was very deserving," Kier said. "His skill set speaks for itself."
Davis had to face the consequences of the Tigers' young lineup. He faced barrages of shots and many of them were from close range. There were times that Davis looked like a magician or a contortionist with the saves he made.
"He played out of his mind most of the season," Kier said. "He kept us in a lot of games. The reason we won 10 games was largely because of Max."
Thomas was the only returning varsity defenseman. He flashed excellent playmaking skills, finishing with 13 points on four goals and nine assists. He was able to accomplish that despite playing much of the season with a nagging shoulder injury.
"His skating ability is what takes him to the next level," Kier said.
Senior Jackson Haukom and sophomore Kaleb Bents were first team selections for the Spartans and senior Dominic Abbott was an honorable mention selection.
Haukom was the one returning offensive force for the Spartans with 60 points in the first three seasons of his career as a hard-rushing defenseman. Somerset's coaches knew they needed help on offense, so they tried Haukom at forward early in the season. Haukom wasn't comfortable in the new role and it was compounded by injuries. He moved back to defense and the move helped the Spartans thrive in the second half of the season. Haukom finished the season with 23 points on nine goals and 14 assists.
Bents was one of the finds of the season. The Spartans weren't sure what they had at the start of the season. They found the sophomore had a calm demeanor and he excelled at squaring up to shooters to take away angles. He stopped 90 percent of the shots he faced. He had a stretch of 10 games late in the season where he didn't allow more than three goals in a game.
Abbott was a defense-first defenseman who often teamed with Haukom, allowing his partner to be more offensive minded. Abbott finished the season with one goal and 15 assists. The assists were an indication of Abbott's playmaking skills, and was the highest assist total on the team.