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Captains Evan Zik, left, Evan Huseboe and Andrew Rodewald will lead the Raider boys' hockey team when it hits the ice for the season opener Thursday at 7 p.m. at home against Eau Claire Memorial. Bob Burrows photo
Captains Evan Zik, left, Evan Huseboe and Andrew Rodewald will lead the Raider boys' hockey team when it hits the ice for the season opener Thursday at 7 p.m. at home against Eau Claire Memorial. Bob Burrows photo

Boys hockey faces early challenge

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sports River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Raider boys' hockey team will face a stiff test right off the bat when it opens the 2009-10 season Thursday night, Dec. 3 at home against three-time defending Big Rivers Conference champs Eau Claire Memorial. Face-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at John Gornick Memorial Arena.

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The Raiders lost nine players from last year's team that reached the sectional final game and finished with a record of 15-7-1, but head coach Mike Stoskopf said he's confident the returning group can compete with anyone.

"The strength of our team is work ethic and speed," he said. "Hopefully this will give us good balance."

Hudson will look to replace four of its top five scorers. Junior forward Ryan Dau is the top returning scorer after tallying 14 goals and 13 assists a year ago as a sophomore. A member of Team Wisconsin Minor, Dau hits the ice after playing in the National Select 16 Tournament this past summer.

Also back is senior co-captain Evan Huseboe, who had 10 goals and six assists a year ago, and senior forward Adam Dardine, who contributed three goals and nine assists. Senior forward Phil McSorley returns after scoring two goals and dishing out seven assists as a junior while senior co-captain Andrew Rodewald contributed seven assists from his position on the blue line.

In addition to replacing the bulk of the team's scoring, the Raiders also lost last year's starting goaltender, Garrett Patrick, who left the state after his sophomore season to play Midget Major hockey for Chadders in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Stoskopf said sophomore Matt Strachota will look to fill the void left by Patrick's departure.

"Our sophomore goaltender Matt Strachota looks real good in practice so we are anxious to get started," the coach said.

Stoskopf said Eau Claire Memorial appears to be the team to beat in the BRC this season, but added the conference should be tough top to bottom.

"The conference should be very competitive with Eau Claire Memorial the favorite," he said. "I think several teams have the ability to surprise Eau Claire Memorial so it should be exciting."

Eau Claire Memorial is ranked fourth in the Wisconsin Prep Hockey Preseason Top Ten poll while the Raiders received honorable mention.

After opening the season Thursday, Hudson will host New Richmond Tuesday night and Menomonie Thursday, Dec. 10, before traveling to Hayward Saturday, Dec. 12.

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