With one of the most prolific scorers in the Badger South Conference in senior forward Brody Hlavacek returning, the Stoughton boys hockey team has its sights set on moving up the ladder in the league.
The Vikings return 13 players from a team that went 7-16 and finished fifth in the Badger South Conference with a 4-8 mark last year.
“The expectations would be to improve off of where we were last year and hopefully battle with the top team in the conference,” Stoughton coach Brett Quale said.
Quale takes over the head-coaching reins after serving as an assistant coach last year. He’s also been a Stoughton Youth Hockey assistant coach in the past.
Hlavacek scored a team-high 27 goals and dished out nine assists en route to earning all-conference honors last year. Senior forward James Hanson scored 10 goals and had six assists, and junior forward Dustin Woelke added six goals and six assists last year.
“Brody Hlavacek and James Hanson are our captains,” Quale said, “and we need to them to lead the team and get on board with what we are trying to do at Stoughton so the team can hop on board.”
Seniors Jared Bauer (three goals, six assists last season), Nolen Custer (two goals) and Parker Milbauer (two goals) offer the Vikings depth at forward. Two other forwards the Vikings will rely on are senior David Beach and junior Zayne Zeichert.
The Vikings return four defenseman in seniors Jack Trotter and Evan Scherier and juniors Zach Wahlin and Tyler Peterson.
Stoughton will have the challenge of replacing goaltender Carter Hellenbrand, who posted a .903 save percentage last year. Senior Quinn Ziemann had an .823 save percentage in 22 games last season, but he will likely play a bigger role this year.
Edgewood, which has won 10 straight conference titles, is the favorite to win the league title.
One change this year is the move to two divisions for the hockey postseason. Stoughton will be in Division 2. The Vikings lost a Division 1 regional game to Milton 2-1 last year. Quale sees a wide-open sectional this season.