The Raiders’ sheer depth puts them among the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League’s elite contenders this season.
MSOE is well-stocked at all positions, with 12 sophomores returning after dazzling freshmen campaigns and where upperclassmen still hold considerable rank. Four of last season’s point-grabbing freshmen — most notably team-leading scorer Bradley Tierney (nine goals and 17 points in 27 contests) — give the Raiders speed upfront. Jordan Keizer (10 goals and nine assists for 19 points), Nick Gorup (nine goals and eight assists for 17 points), and Sean McGaughy (nine goals and eight assists for 17 points) also had stellar freshmen seasons.
“Based on last year, we felt the strength of our team was with our freshman class,” coach Mark Ostapina says. “That we feel is the significant factor as far as us competing, because they are one year older, more mature and more savvy in regards to the league and what college hockey is all about.
“We anticipate them coming out and taking charge right away.”
To balance the underclassmen attack, senior Michael Soik returns after posting a team-leading 14 goals last season, while junior Todd Krupa was second in assists with 16.
The Raiders blue line is a mixture of size and experience.
At 6-foot-3, junior Ben Plocar adds some venom from the point, where he scored five goals and 11 assists in 16 games. Plocar is joined by fellow junior rearguard Ryno Linder, who netted five goals and nine assists last season.
In terms of size, though, 6-foot-5 sophomore defensemen Nathan Brunk is the tallest of the bunch. Brunk had nine assists in his freshman year.
With junior neminder Connor Toomey, though, the entire team stands taller. Toomey backstopped the team in a pair of season-opening victories over Concordia, 7-2 and 6-0, where he only yielded two goals and earned MCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Last season, Toomey was 12-8-2 with a sterling 2.66 goals-against average and an .898 save-percentage.
“Connor is an outstanding goaltender and I think he’s one of the best in the league and one of the best in D-III hockey,” Ostapina says.