New coach, but plenty of experience for Lightning girls
Bryan Boreen calls himself a "player coach"
PEQUOT LAKES — The Northern Lakes Lightning girls hockey team will have a new coach on the bench and a new goalie in net, but bring back enough experience to hopefully make a deep postseason run.
New Pequot Lakes science teacher Bryan Boreen takes over as coach of the Lightning, replacing Chuck Deutsch. Boreen has 17 years of experience coaching boys and girls hockey at various levels, and is more than ready for another winter in the rink.
"It's a fast-paced, fun sport, and there’s nothing else to do in the winter so you might as well be on a team and play hockey,” Boreen said. “There is also a camaraderie and team-togetherness that hockey brings — I think more than other sports.”
He said he has enjoyed coaching all these years because of the feeling he gets by seeing his athletes enjoy the game.
“It’s a place to get away from life, be a kid and play a game you enjoy. Just to be able to bring joy and have that impact on kids is pretty cool,” Boreen said.
Boreen described himself as a player coach — making sure student athletes are built up and can take pride in their successes on the ice.
“I guess I would call myself a player coach," he said. "I like to make things fun, bring enthusiasm, excitement. I try to embrace the failures and mistakes, and provide an opportunity for learning — every moment is a teachable moment — and I like to make the game fun and exciting and help the kids build their skill and feel good about what they're doing.”
The Lightning began practicing Monday, Oct. 31 — taking to the ice in costume on that first day — but Boreen has made sure his team is familiar with him since he first arrived in Pequot Lakes.
“We came up here in the beginning of July, and the first thing I did was get the team together. We ended up putting a float together for the Pequot Lakes Fourth of July parade. That was my first interaction with them, and we have been ‘foot on the gas pedal’ ever since,” he said.
He expects senior forward Rose Aldridge — the team's leading scorer in 2021-22 — to have perhaps the largest impact on the team, but believes the team has plenty of experience along with lots of hungry young athletes to help his team succeed this year.
“We have six returning seniors and three juniors, which kind of makes up our core group of veteran players, but there are probably eight or nine sophomores that are really starting to stand out," Boreen said. "I think they are going to really be the players to watch over the next few years.”
Challenges may arise in net for the Lightning, as longtime starter Kate Stephens moved to Warroad in the offseason.
“That was a huge surprise to everybody,” Boreen said. “Nobody really saw that coming, but it is what it is. We'll just have to find somebody else, and the rest of the team will have to step up and support each other.”
The current goalies on the roster are in eighth and ninth grades, which Boreen does not see as a problem — certainly not in the long run.
“I'm going to use that as a positive," he said. "It's going to give somebody else an opportunity to step in and fill a role, and it’s a reason for the team to come together even more … (The goalies) are going to get a lot of experience when they’re young, so in three years they will be seasoned veterans.”
While some bumps in the road may be expected, Boreen believes his team can be successful if it remembers to be exactly that: a team.
“I think our focus is going to be on being a team and doing everything together as a team and supporting each other — doing what it takes to get to where we want to be. Whatever goals we set, everybody's working together towards the same thing and everybody's got each other's back, and they're for each other and having a good time doing it.”
The Lightning will host Prairie Center on Thursday, Nov. 17, before facing Two Rivers on the following day.
"This is a quick learning group that responds very well to coaching suggestions and strategies. They have 100% bought in to our system and style of play, and I anticipate many positive results throughout the season," Boreen said.