Jake Boltmann

Future University of Minnesota defenseman Jake Boltmann is the top returnee from last year's state championship Edina Hockey team. (Photo by John Sherman)

In a hockey town like Edina, tryout week is always filled with anxiety for the players trying to make the team.

At the same time, it is a difficult week for the coaching staff since so many of the candidates are very capable hockey players.

“You hate to be the bearer of bad news because all of the kids have worked really hard to try to make the team,” Edina head coach Curt Giles said at the conclusion of the 2019-20 tryouts last week. “All of a sudden, there are a lot of tough decisions to be made.”

Edina is one of the programs in which the players receive the news in-person from the coaches.

“We talk to each kid, whether they make the team or they are one of the players we have to cut,” Giles said.

Now that the team is picked, the Hornets have a mixture of experienced players and newcomers. The three senior captains - defenseman Jake Boltmann and forwards Cole Cavanagh and Grant Morton - had key roles on Edina’s state Class AA championship teams last year. Boltmann, an All-State player, has committed to play for the University of Minnesota next season.

“Jake is a solid defenseman with a great motor,” Giles said. “He’s the kind of player who can skate all day. Jake is also a great leader in terms of character. He cares about all the other kids on the team.”

Last season, forwards Jett Jungels, Mason Nevers and Liam Malmquist were far and away the leading scorers for Edina. Now that they have graduated and gone on to the college ranks, Giles sees the Hornet offense taking a different approach.

“Instead of three guys scoring 30 goals each, I am looking for more scoring by committee,” the coach said. “We might have five or six guys scoring 15 goals each.”

Along with Cavanagh and Morton, the most experienced varsity forwards are Jackson Borst and Mark Overman.

Edina’s defense should be the strength of the team with Boltmann, Kevin Williams and Gunnar Johnson returning on the blue line and junior Louden Hogg returning as the starting goaltender.

“Louden was new to Edina last year, and with all the expectations of Edina hockey, there were some growing pains,” Giles noted. “He really came through in the section and state tournaments.”

Edina will see plenty of good competition this season, playing a schedule that includes state contenders Andover, Benilde-St. Margaret’s, Eden Prairie, Elk River, Grand Rapids, Maple Grove, Minnetonka and Wayzata.

“We saw Minnetonka in a scrimmage last weekend, and they’re very good,” Giles said.

The Hornets will open the season in the Turkey Trot at Plymouth Ice Center Friday, Nov. 29, facing Maple Grove in the first round. Wayzata will open against Moorhead the same night, with the winners playing in the championship game Saturday, Nov. 30.

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