The goal celebrations have been a common occurrence, and they are coming on the good side of the rink for the Edina Lakers.
That much alone marks a major difference for the Lakers so far this year, and it is the primary reason behind a 7-4-1 start that currently has Edina on the brink of a top-four spot in the Minnesota Division standings in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
"We are scoring more and giving up fewer," noted second-year head coach Joe Long. "If you are looking for why we are improved, it is as simple as that. We've been better both offensively and defensively."
It is a theory that is as old as the game itself. Outscore the opposition, and you will win. But for Long and the Lakers, it was much easier said than done a year ago, when Edina was outscored 249-160.
Those totals averaged out to a team that scored right around three goals per game, which was a far cry for the more than five goals per game the Lakers allowed last season.
It also meant the 20-27-1 record Edina finished last year with was right about where the Lakers should have been, and in return, the averages this year lead to the belief that the team is winning more than its share of games.
Once again, the stats don't lie.
"We have more depth up front, and that's given us the ability to score a few more goals," Long said. "And our goaltending this year has been really good. That wasn't a luxury we had last year."
Through a dozen games, the Lakers are already outscoring the opposition 57-41. Seven different skaters have already racked up at least 10 points, while on the other end, goaltender Tanor Bradison (Anchorage, Alaska) has allowed just 3.28 per game while turning aside over 90 percent the shots sent his way.
The reverberating boost of confidence that combination has provided Edina is noticeable, Long said.
As are the results.
"By no means have we been perfect, but you can really see the guys playing with confidence," Long said. "On one end, they are confident they will score goals. And on the other, they are confident Tanor will make the saves he needs to make."
In turn, the offensive firepower up front has helped east Bradison's thoughts. Seman Ivanov (Moscow, Russia) has been the most lethal of the bunch, as he's already racked up 15 goals and 10 assists in 11 games.
Ryan Sete (Jackson, Miss.) has dressed in a dozen games and responded with a 7-goal, 14-assist spurt to start the year, Andrew Bergquist (Bountiful, Utah) already has 16 points in 10 games, Brad Johnson (Round Rock, Texas) has 12 points, Conner Bodin (Austin, Texas) and Ian Thoennes (Duluth, Minn.) 10 each, and brothers Derek and Adam McMasters (Austin, Minn.) have combined for 22.
"We have two lines we know we can put out there that can score at any time," Long said. "The depth up front has been a big plus."
The early season realization of what it takes to win has also been vital, Long added.
The Lakers are putting up numbers, and winning games. But a little over a month into the hockey season, indications have the Minnesota Division shaping up to be as competitive as ever.
Six of the eight teams have already established a .500 or better record.
"We knew it was going to be like this after the first game of the year," Long said. "It's really important to get points every weekend, and that is something we are putting in the kids' heads already, because is we want to finish in the top-four, we are going to have to earn it."
Elsewhere in the in the Minnesota Division of the MnJHL:
Dells Ducks: The Dells Ducks swept a three-game home series with Maple Grove last weekend to improve to 12-4 on the year. Rob Meadows (Detroit, Mich.) was credited with the win in goal in each of the three games. He made 30 saves in a 4-1 victory Oct. 12, then came back with 30 in a 5-1 win Oct. 13 before helping to finish off the Energy with a 29-save shutout in a 7-0 victory Oct. 14.
Hudson Crusaders: Hudson goaltender Marc Hayton (Cumberland, Wis.) made 36 saves in 3-0 loss to the Steele County Blades Oct. 12. Fellow netminders Garrett Patrick (Hudson, Wis.) and Victor Simones (Farmington, Minn.) combined to made 65 stops in a loss at Rochester Oct. 13.
Maple Grove Energy: Maple Grove had a tough trip to the Dells Ducks this past weekend, losing each of the three games. T.J. Marquardt (Victoria, Minn.) scored the team's lone goal in a 4-1 loss Oct. 12, and Travis Ricci (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) netted his eight-goal of the season in a 5-1 defeat Oct. 13.
Minnesota Owls: Branden Reimann (Blaine, Minn.) had a goal and assist, Vincent Currao (Jackson, N.J.) also scored and Filippo Traversa (Torrino, Italy) made 28 saves as the Owls rebounded from a 6-3 loss at Edina Oct. 12 to beat the Lakers 3-2 in a shootout Oct. 12. Reimann added another two points, and Currao a goal in a 5-3 loss at Steele County Oct. 13.
Rochester Ice Hawks: The Ice Hawks split a pair of games this last weekend. Josiah Habighorst (Windsor, Colo.) and Jarrett Pfeiffer (Ypsilanti, Mich.) both scored a pair of goals in a 8-0 victory over Hudson Oct. 13. Pfeiffer, Austin Rust (Algonac, Mich.) and Jake Zarzycki (Clinton Township, Mich.) each had a goal and assist in a 4-3 overtime loss at Twin cities Oct. 14.
Steele County Blades: The Steele County Blades won two of three last weekend. Quest Bain (Anchorage, Alaska) scored twice and Adam Carlson (Edina, Minn.) made 24 saves in a 3-0 shutout of Hudson Oct. 12. Bain then added two assists, and Jon Stevanovich (Brookfield, Ill.) and James Wagoner (Owatonna, Minn.) each had three points in a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Owls Oct. 14
Twin Cities Northern Lights: The first-place Northern Lights won two more times this past weekend to improve to 13-0-1 this season. Jace Childs (Savage, Minn.) and Shane Gachne (Excelsior, Minn.) had two points apiece and Isaak Tjaden (Northfield, Minn.) made 25 saves in a 4-0 win over the Steele County Blades Oct. 13. The following day, Matt Pietrzykowksi (East Bethany, N.Y.) scored with 25 seconds left in the third period, and Carter Purdy (Elkhorn, Neb.) scored 1:39 into overtime as the Northern Lights rallied to beat Rochester 4-3. Childs finished that win with three assists.
Games this week:
Friday, October 19
Twin Cities Northern Lights at Dells Ducks, 6:30 p.m.
Minnesota Owls at Maple Grove Energy, 7 p.m.
Edina Lakers at Steele County Blades, 7:05 p.m.
Hudson Crusaders at Rochester Ice Hawks, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, October 20
Twin Cities Northern Lights at Dells Ducks, 6:30 p.m.
Maple Grove Energy at Steele County Blades, 7:05 p.m.
Rochester Ice Hawks at Edina Lakers, 7:30 p.m.
Hudson Crusaders at Minnesota Owls, 7:30 p.m..
Sunday, October 21
Twin Cities Northern Lights at Dells Ducks, noon