Northern Lakes hockey team ready to get started

Aitkin area players on the Northern Lakes Lightning hockey team are, front from left – Jamison St. Clair and Caiden Kjelstrom; back – Ethan Kunz, Owen Miller, Zach Ehnstrom and Jeremiah Smythe.

Lightning is about to strike again in January.

The Northern Lakes hockey team hits the ice for its season opener Thursday, traveling to Breezy Point Arena against Park Rapids for a 7 p.m. game.

 Coach Craig Larson is in his eighth year at the helm, and he is optimistic about this year’s team.

“We bring back a number of players who will contribute this season and we have four from Aitkin that have lots of experience,” Larson said. “We have 12 players back from last year’s varsity and I think we’ll be in every game.”

The four players from Aitkin include familiar names like Caiden Kjelstrom, who played on the top line last year and scored 17 goals and had 16 assists.

Jake Ince had five goals and four assists while Owen Miller, who was a defenseman, added a goal and five assists.

Miller spent some time off the ice with a leg injury, but is coming off a stellar football season along with his Aitkin teammates.

Jeremiah Smythe played two games between the pipes and had a goals against average of 2.78 and a save percentage of .921.

Larson knows the Aitkin players will be an intergral part of this year’s team.

“Owen is one of our co-captains and is very tough on the defensive end,” Larson said. “Caiden is one of our assistant captains and is rock solid on our top line.

“We have an 18-game schedule and are coming off a 15-11-1 record from a year ago.” Larson added. “I think we’ll be tough in the Mid-State (conference) and in Section 5 as well. Our numbers are good, 36 kids in grades 9-12.

“We’re anxious to get the season started.”

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