The Golden Eagles are only two seasons removed from back-to-back MCHA tournament championships. After falling on harder times over the past to years, Minnesota-Crookston will attempt to get back to the top with vastly revamped lineup.
The Golden Eagles will welcome 21 new faces to this season’s lineup.
Good news, however, is that three of Crookston’s top four scorers are among those who do return for the 2006-07 campaign.
Among these are seniors Teal Plaine and Ryan Leadens, who — along with juniors Matt Hann and Brent Groenke — will be looking to jump start an offense that ranked fifth in the MCHA with 3.55 goals per game last season.
Defensively, the Crookston defense ranked last in the MCHA in 05-06, allowing goals at a rate of 5.55 per game.
The first line of defense for a team looking to improve defensively is the return of two goalies who both have earned valuable MCHA experience. Senior Kyle Knudsen (1-5-1, 5.63, .850) and junior Jaden Isakson (3-5-0, 5.77, .825) will be expected to carry the load and protect an unproven defensive unit.
On defense, the Golden Eagle do return juniors Ryan Tucker (2-7-9) and Kyle Sponholtz (0-2-2), but they are the only players to return who did see significant time on defense last season.
As the only Division II team in the MCHA, and therefore ineligible for the NCAA Division III tournament, Crookston is often unwarrantedly labeled as being “that other team.” With the current changes occurring in the MCHA however, along with their recent application for Division III status, the Golden Eagles and their history of success are back with a new-look team looking to jump back into the conference race — and fully into the world of Division III hockey.
Most intriguing storyline: Everyone knows this program knows how to win. With an influx of new faces, will the Golden Eagles be able to win right away?