After finishing three points shy of a MIAC playoff berth last season, the Concordia Cobbers will work on closing deal this time around.
That’s because the Cobbers had their fate decided by two goals or less in 14 of 25 contests, which included a league-record five ties.
The lack of crucial goals was reflected in the team’s overall anemic 5-15-5 performance. Concordia finished seventh with a 4-7-5 mark in MIAC play. A preseason coaches poll had the team jumping a spot to sixth.
With seven of its top-seven scorers back, including Nick Thielen, who led the team in goals (10) and points (23), the Cobbers are hopeful things will only improve.
“We need to be able to get beyond the psychological fatigue,” said third-year coach Chris Howe, who has an 8-35-7 career mark. “This is a hard thing to do, but one that we are constantly working on. The ability to achieve this will determine the level of success we will attain this season.”
The Cobbers opened the campaign with a robust 6-4 victory over Bethel in the MIAC Showcase Oct. 30, but things quickly turned sour as the team dropped three straight games while being outscored 10-3.
Junior Jared Collen had a team-leading two goals and one assist through four games. Thielen, who was last season’s top goal-getter, had yet to find the net while last season’s MIAC All-Rookie Team selection Pat Deitz (7 goals, 10 assists) had a goal in four contests.
All-MIAC defenseman Erick Galt, who is counted on to shepherd the team’s rearguards, scored the game-winning goal in 6-4 victory against Bethel.
The most interesting storyline, though, has been in goal, where three freshmen are vying for the starting job.
Chris Neamonitis (Estevan SJHL) was 0-2 with a 3.55 goals-against average and .875 save-percentage while Kelly Andrew (Wichita Falls NAHL) started in the Bethel win, turning away 33 of 37 shots. Glenn Gayet (Edina MNJHL) stopped 30 of 31 shots in a 3-1 loss to Wisconsin-Superior Nov. 6.
“The battle in the net is going as expected,” Howe said. “We have three players who are in the mix to play.
“When one steps up and asserts himself as the number one guy, I will be happy.”