The Auggies are looking to build on a seven-year best 16 wins last season, which catapulted the squad into the MIAC’s high-rent district.
With the team’s top two scorers Nick Guran (18 goals and 15 assists) and Joel Sauer (16 goals and 16 assists) returning, along with goalie Justin Lochner (2.32 goals-against average), there’s little reason to think Augsburg won’t achieve that goal. MIAC coaches think the team’s capable, picking the Auggies to finish second behind favorite Hamline in their preseason poll.
So far, the Auggies have been a mixed bag. In the MIAC Showcase Oct. 29-31, the team rebounded from a 2-1 season-opening loss to Gustavus Adolphus by trouncing St. Mary’s 8-1.
The Auggies then tied UW-River Falls, 2-2, and beat UW-Eau Claire, 2-1, in overtime. The early returns underscore the team’s need to find balance, coach Chris Brown said.
“We need to be more consistent with scoring at even strength,” said Brown, entering his fourth season as coach. “Our top line (Jim Jensen, Guran and Sauer) will produce, but we can’t just rely on them to carry the load if we want to win consistently.”
The 2-1-1 start would be troubling if not for last season’s uneven 2-3-0 curtain-raiser. The Auggies rebounded to go 14-7-1, which included a seven-game winning streak.
The team’s second playoff run in two seasons was brought to a crushing halt in a 6-5 four-OT loss to Gustavus in the semifinals. Lochner made an NCAA-record 98 saves in the marathon, which was the longest game in D-III history.
Lochner, who played in 19 games last season, appears to have shaken off any postseason trauma by posting a paltry 1.61 GAA and radiant .941 save-percentage in three starts this season.
“Justin has proven to produce a solid save percentage, which is the most important statistic behind wins,” the Auggies coach said. “We are confident in that position, but the most important thing is how we defend our end in front of him.”