State of Hockey’s newest varsity team, building foundation for future success

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The state of hockey has a new high school program vying for a coveted spot in the state hockey tournament.

After 40 years without a varsity program, Cotter Schools – a private catholic school located in Winona – rostered a varsity line-up with games all over the state.

"I think the kids that are here are pretty pumped up about it," Martin Raymond, head coach for the Cotter High School Ramblers hockey team, said about the new program.

Coach Raymond, who coached semi-professional hockey for years, says the program will take years to build up, and the first couple of years will focus on more than just winning.

"It’s how the improvement comes along and how our kids are going to get better," Raymond added.

While the Ramblers are the newest roster in Minnesota, they’re far from the deepest. There are 11 skaters on the roster, including their goalie.

Despite being far from some of the state’s powerhouse programs to the north, Raymond has confidence the varsity program will grow in numbers and strength thanks to local youth programs.

"When you can recruit from within, you don’t have to go get players left and right," Raymond said about not having to only rely on recruiting future players.

Another coach with experience to help the team grow is assistant coach Bob Anacabe. Also, the power play coach, Anacabe, played varsity hockey in Warroad, where he won two state tournament championships in 2003 and 2005.

"I think we [have] a bright future," Anacabe said. "It’s just getting through the hurdles in the beginning."

During the program’s first year, some of those hurdles have been winter weather and the pandemic. Between snowstorms and players having to quarantine, five out of their first nine games of the season were either canceled or postponed.

Lone senior and team captain, Ashur Rouleau, said he’s excited to lead the new group.

"Hopefully [we can] set a good foundation for the years to come," Rouleau said.

Winless (0-4) on the season, the Ramblers will have an opportunity to get their first victory during the Herb Brooks Holiday Classic at the National Sports Center in Blaine.

Losing their first game of the week 0-14 to the Pine City Area Dragons on Monday, the Ramblers will play the Princeton High School Tigers at 11:15, Tuesday morning.

You can follow the Rambler’s season – which will include live streams of their games – here.