by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Dale Sager, longtime Elk River hockey assistant, has taken the reins of the Rogers girls team.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be the new head coach in the Rogers girls hockey program,” said Sager, who left the head coaching position at Centennial, which he held for one year.
“It will be good to get back closer to home,” said Sager, a special education para professional at ERHS, “and to join a very good program in Rogers.”
Sager was named last week by activities director Dan Ohlgren to succeed Scott Childers, who resigned after five years in Rogers, three as head coach.
Sager was an assistant at Elk River, under Joe Heasley, from 2004-12, helping the Elks reach three state tournaments, before taking the job at Centennial, his alma mater. In a rebuilding year for the Cougars, he had an 8-18-1 record.
With the Elks, Sager was twice honored as state assistant coach of the year by the coaches association.
Sager also coaches Select teams and is very active at the state level. He is president-elect of the Minnesota Girls Hockey Association and has helped select all-state teams and the Ms. Hockey award.
The Rogers girls program has been hovering around .500 the last five years (59-64-10 total) including 10-13-4 this winter. Next year, the Royals move to Class AA for the first time.
“That’s a challenge but I’m looking forward to it,” said Sager. “We’ll have an honorable mention all-state goalie back (junior Michelle Klimstra) along with (sophomore forward) Emily Antony, who was named top 54 in her age group, and some other good skater. There’s good groups of 10’s and 12’s coming up.”
Childers agreed with that assessment: “I think Rogers is going to have a pretty nice season.”
Childers resigns, will rejoin Kolter
Childers added that he always thought he’d stay until Antony, the Royals all-time scoring leader, graduated. But he felt this was a good time to move, when Jim Kolter, Champlin Park coach, with whom he’s coached previously, offered him an assistant job.
A physical education teacher at Armstrong, also former head coach at Cooper for five years, Childers said he feels more comfortable as an assistant coach than head coach. He was Kolters’ assistant the first two years at Rogers. “I’ll be rejoining Jim,” he said. “We’re a good team.”