Already-legendary Duluth Denfeld boy’s hockey coach Dale Jago on the state of his upstart program:
“We have a nice group of bantams moving up, with good numbers overall. We also return some good players, including our scoring leader (forward Griffin Lehet) and one of the best junior forwards in northern Minnesota (Kade Shea).
“By adding this young group to an improved back end and solid goaltending, we should be good. We’re young and will have some growing pains, for sure. But we’re looking forward to it.
“We’re building our program based on discipline, respect and accountability. We’ve come a long way in terms of discipline and the accountability. The kids are responsible for what they do not only on the ice but away from it, including in the classroom. We had 21 kids out of 29 with higher than a 3.0 (grade point average) last year — we’re really proud of this.
“It’s baby steps as we return pride in the program, and to help the kids achieve what they might not have believed they can accomplish. It’s all here in front of us, and with some belief, some luck, I think we have a chance.
“Our skill level is higher and the depth is there, that’s for sure. We’re bigger, faster and stronger, but we’ll be patient because the core is mostly 10th-graders. We can’t expect too much of them too early, and we’ve got to keep them safe.
“The younger kids can’t expect to just step in, to have their spot, and some will begin with the junior varsity. They’re all good players, all good kids and students, and hopefully everybody will stay eligible and we get off to a good start. Then we’ll proceed.
“We have realistic goals for the season. Once you get to Amsoil (Section 7A semifinals), anything can happen. That’s the first step on the road to the big dance. We’ll start the season with some simple goals, achieve them, and set our ultimate goal is get to Amsoil. Then, we’ll see.”