Thole: Ponies not giving up on conference, state aspirations

Hockey coach Phil Housley and the Ponies are determined to end a half-century dry spell by advancing to the state tournament.
Hockey coach Phil Housley and the Ponies are determined to end a half-century dry spell by advancing to the state tournament.

The Stillwater boys’ hockey team voted junior defenseman Mitch Reinke its Most Valuable Player as part of the team’s postseason awards banquet at Oak Glen Golf Club on March 19.

Reinke scored 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) for the 10-14-2 Ponies, who lost to state runner-up Hill-Murray 6-2 in the Section 4AA semifinals. It marked the fifth straight year that the locals reached at least the section semifinals.

Stillwater has yet to win a conference or section title in its 50-year history of playing the sport. This is a condition that coach Phil Housley, assistants Pete Hamilton, Matt Doman, Jay Cates, Paul Benson and the Ponies will continue to work hard to correct.

Reinke and goalie Colton Anderson, who posted a 2.66 goals against average and a .89 save percentage, made the all-conference team. Nick Anderson, who scored 17 points (11 goals, 6 assists), Tyler Fitzsimmons (11 goals, 8 assists) and junior Brandon Jungmann (8 goals, 9 assists) were honorable mention all-conference picks. Graduation will claim 11 seniors this spring.

Among the departing senior scorers after Fitzsimmons and Nick Anderson are: Zach Fedie (7 goals, 3 assists) with 10 points, Josh Clark (1-7—8), Payton Hosch (1-5—6), Chad Smith (4-2—6), Jarrid Balz (3-1—4) and Blake Kohanek and Nick Peterson with two points each. Goalie Pat Courteau finished with a 3.01 goals against average and a .89 save percentage.

On the bright side, the Ponies return their top scorer in the person of sophomore Devin Cates, who logged 21 points on 5 goals and 16 assists, Jungmann (17 points), sophomore Zach Eder-Zdechlik (1-6—7), juniors Jon Peterson (2-5—7), John Heddle (6 points), Wyatt Stotts (4), Peyton Gosso (3) and Ian Weisbrod (3), junior Aaron Kasinak and sophomore Sam Sagissor with 2 points apiece. Reinke and Peterson will captain next year’s outfit.

Stillwater seemed to be short of experienced players because as many as three were out of the lineup in most games due to injury and illness. The Ponies proved they could play with victories coming over touted Minnetonka and Mounds View in double overtime in the section playoffs.

Housley, to his credit, schedules top-notch teams for his nonconference games.

The Ponies face a tough schedule next year with Wayzata, Tonka and Benilde-St. Margaret’s on the road, plus the usual SEC toughies. In spite of that, Housley is quick to state that the Big Red will be in the hunt for that elusive Suburban East Conference title.

A little birdie tells me that Housley will be roasted by the Old-Timers Hockey Association on Tuesday, May 7 at the Prom Center in Oakdale. More on that later.


Today’s Sports Trivia

Name the NBA guard who scored 69 points in a 124-107 victory over the New York Knicks in 1977, which until that time was the highest single game total for a guard and the third-best all-time behind Wilt Chamberlain (100) and Elgin Baylor (71).


In the huddle

Haley Balzart was selected the Most Valuable Player for the Stillwater girls’ basketball team. She led the Ponies (6-21) in rebounds while averaging six per game. Balzart was an honorable mention all-conference pick while freshman Rilee Day was the most improved player and will be a major cog in the Big Red’s future. First-year head coach Gerard Coury has a better fix now on what it will take to get his team on top. Sophomore Erin Thiets and Paige Becker will captain next year’s edition…. The Ponies conference champion boys’ and girls’ alpine skiers held their season-ending awards banquet at The Grand Ballroom on March 5. Kennedy O’Reilly was chosen MVP for the girls and joined Natalie Gjermo, Story Schwantes, Sydney Evensen, Ashley Ludack and Maddie Neubauer in receiving all-conference honors while Claire Weber was honorable mention. Gjermo received the Jane Ammerman Award and will serve with Rachel Amos as co-captains next winter. The boys elected Steig Peterson MVP and he leads an all-conference brigade that includes Cory Carlson, Sam Skaret and Zach Raven. All-state performer Jake Allison shared the Len McGuire Award with Peterson and Will Raedeke. McGuire was a good guy and great coach. Matt Ludack and Westin Anderson will captain coach Mary Parcheta’s outfit next year…. Answer to Today’s Sports Trivia: Pete Maravich of the New Orleans Jazz torched the Knicks for 69 points…. It was a lustrum ago that Karen and I were invited by old NDSU football buddy Dale Hinkle to ride in a parade in Mayville, N.D., which is located halfway between Fargo and

Retired Stillwater football coach George Thole and wife Karen, right, join Dale Hinkle, left, and horses Liv and Sne for a parade in Mayville, N.D.
Retired Stillwater football coach George Thole and wife Karen, right, join Dale Hinkle, left, and horses Liv and Sne for a parade in Mayville, N.D.

Grand Forks. Hinkle raises Norwegian Fjord horses as a hobby. He hitched horses Liv and Sne to his parade wagon and off we went before a large crowd in this town of 2,000. About two-thirds of the way through the parade, he handed over the reins to Moi. Being perfectly honest, I pestered my good friend to let me drive. From that point on, total chaos broke out as those stubborn little Norskies headed for the sidewalk, sending people to gather their lawn chairs, blankets and thermos bottles to avoid the inept teamster from Stillwater…. Nate Ricci, Stillwater’s versatile quarterback, and offensive tackle Derrick Thingvold will play for the North squad in the Minnesota All-Star Football Game at St. Cloud State University on June 29. Ricci completed 60 of 113 passes for 799 yards and recorded 1,488 yards of total offense for the 8-2 conference co-champion Ponies. Thingvold blocked for a Red and Black offense that averaged 275 yards and 24.6 points per game. The North team will be coached by Becker’s Dwight Lundeen and the South by Andy Rostberg of Hutchinson. The latter is the son of Hutchinson’s hall of fame coach Grady Rostberg…. Former Pony Andrea Friendt ’87 is teaching English as a second language in the Burnsville School District…. Nate Wolters, the South Dakota State basketball star, has been named an Associated Press Third Team All-American. Stillwater boys’ basketball coach Randy Jordan coached Wolters at St. Cloud Tech High School…. Former Ponies two-time state diving champion Maggie Keefer ’10 continues to make waves in her sport. Keefer, an All-Big Ten diver for the Minnesota Gophers, placed second in the 1-meter springboard and sixth in the 3-meter event at the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis. She has attained All-American status six times and the Big Ten Diver of the Year has a year left. Maggie ranks as Minnesota’s second-best diver all-time…. Together we build character, courage and loyalty…. finis


Today’s rumination #613

It doesn’t do any good to sit up and take notice if you just keep on sitting.

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George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: [email protected]