The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 22, 2013

With new coach, Cougars hope to Raise the Bar

East/Loyola players familiar with Fries

By Shane Frederick sfrederick@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — MANKATO — Sean Allan and Shane Sellner knew what to expect as soon as the announcement was made last May.

The senior captains for the Mankato East/Loyola boys hockey team had played for Adam Fries before, with the Mankato Bantam A team, and they knew things would be different with the new coach aboard.

"He's still got the same mentality," Sellner, a defenseman, said. "You come to practice every day and expect to work as hard as you can every day. It's the same mentality as when we were bantams."

Said Allan, who has been moved from defense to forward: "He knows how to push you. You know he's going to work you hard. He's a good coach."

Fries was hired with the task of turning around what's been a struggling program. Being in their final season of high school hockey, Allan and Sellner hope that reversal begins right away this season.

"We should have a good amount to get us going," Allan said. "We're not looking to build it up; we're looking to start off strong and have that continue throughout the year."

The Cougars went 9-15-1 last season, which was an improvement of five wins from the previous year. They went 2-9-0 in Big Nine play.

"We're looking to improve on last year; that's goal No. 1," Sellner said. "Goal No. 2 is we look to upset a couple of teams. I don't know who that's going to be, but it will come."

Sellner is the Cougars' top returning scorer from a year ago when he had 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points. Allan had three assists last season.

Fries said defense is the team's deepest positions, one of the reasons Allan was moved up front. Besides Sellner, junior Brandon Adams is back, and Finnish foreign-exchange student Jalmari Kattilakoski has been a pleasant surprise in the preseason.

Returners at forward include sophomore Judd Schultz, who had seven goals and nine assist for 13 points a season ago, as well as senior Brad Johnson and junior Logan Lebert.

In goal, junior Will Behsman and sophomore Conor Wachtel will share duties.

"I honestly think we're going to be a good hockey team," Fries said. "The cupboard was not bare. We have some pieces of the puzzle; we just need to put them in the right spots."

Having Allan and Sellner, as well as others who have played for Fries before, helped set a new tone during summer and preseason workouts.

"There's been a learning curve, mentally and physically," Fries said. "They know what to expect. Those that don't are learning."