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This Week in MCHA

College Hockey:
Aitken takes his winning mentality to Marian

The Marian Sabres are one of two teams in the MCHA conference that received a new head coach this season; Concordia is the other, which nabbed the previous head coach of the Sabres, Jasen Wise.

Last spring, A.J. Aitken took the reins behind the bench at Marian after spending nine seasons as associate head coach with the Green Knights at St. Norbert, who have won the national title three times in the last five years. While with the Green Knights, Aitken was a key factor in recruiting.

“Under Tim Coghlin at St. Norbert, I obviously learned a lot,” Aitken said of his tenure. “I know what it takes to win and to compete at an elite level.”

With Aitken’s winning mentality from St. Norbert, and Marian’s veteran squad, the Sabres will look to break into the top spot of the conference this season.

The team Aitken inherited was in good shape. Marian finished the 2011-12 season third in the conference with a 12-5-3 record, and was the top team in the Northern Division. Returning to the roster is last season’s leading scorer, senior forward Dakota Dubetz; the captain had 14 goals and 24 points a season ago.

“Dakota is the leading point scorer last year, and we’ll look to him to get on the score sheet again this season,” Aitken said.

Also returning were the next two leading scorers from the 2011-12 season, sophomore forward Brian Berger (17-10-27) and senior forward Brendan Roberts (11-12-23).

Between the pipes, junior Josh Baker and sophomore Randy Willis are a duo Aitken will call on to step up in his inaugural season, and he feels confident in their ability to win.

“Josh played in a lot of big games last season,” Aitken said. “The team plays with confidence in front of him. He makes the key saves.

“We also have Randy Willis, who is a local kid. He’s played well for us; we need to find a way to score when he’s in.”

Aitken knows what he’s looking for in future players for the program. Playing a vital role in St. Norbert’s recruiting, he has a proven knack for finding the right players.

“I want our players to be responsible for all three zones. They need to capitalize on offensive chances, be solid on special teams.”

The Sabres will look to get back in the win column after dropping two nonconference tilts last weekend, including a 3-1 loss to St. Norbert. Marian will host Northland this weekend; with two wins, the Sabres would gain some ground in the standings and separate themselves with the rest of the Northern Division.

Notes
–MSOE climbed back into the national poll this week after a two-game sweep of Bethel over the weekend.

–Adrian continues its win streak by hammering St. Mary’s 7-3, and is 7-0-0.

–Neither Marian nor Lawrence were able to gain a win against St. Norbert or St. Scholastica last weekend in the NCHA/MCHA Thanksgiving Classic.

–MSOE’s senior forward Jordan Keizer earned MCHA Player of the Week honors; he scored the game-winning goal in Friday’s win and added an assist in Saturday’s victory over Bethel.

–Senior goalie Brendan Sullivan from Lake Forest was awarded the MCHA Defensive Player of the Week, going 1-0-1 and earning a 4-0 shutout on Friday. The shutout marked the team’s first in three years. Sullivan made 25 saves in the 3-3 tie on Saturday.
Freshman powerhouse Shaq Merasty, of the Adrian Bulldogs, earned MCHA Freshman of the Week accolades for the second time this season; scoring two goals in the 7-3 win over St. Mary’s gave Merasty a nation-tying lead of nine goals on the season so far.

The Marian Sabres are one of two teams in the MCHA conference that received a new head coach this season; Concordia is the other, which nabbed the previous head coach of the Sabres, Jasen Wise.

Last spring, A.J. Aitken took the reins behind the bench at Marian after spending nine seasons as associate head coach with the Green Knights at St. Norbert, who have won the national title three times in the last five years. While with the Green Knights, Aitken was a key factor in recruiting.

“Under Tim Coghlin at St. Norbert, I obviously learned a lot,” Aitken said of his tenure. “I know what it takes to win and to compete at an elite level.”

With Aitken’s winning mentality from St. Norbert, and Marian’s veteran squad, the Sabres will look to break into the top spot of the conference this season.

The team Aitken inherited was in good shape. Marian finished the 2011-12 season third in the conference with a 12-5-3 record, and was the top team in the Northern Division. Returning to the roster is last season’s leading scorer, senior forward Dakota Dubetz; the captain had 14 goals and 24 points a season ago.

“Dakota is the leading point scorer last year, and we’ll look to him to get on the score sheet again this season,” Aitken said.

Also returning were the next two leading scorers from the 2011-12 season, sophomore forward Brian Berger (17-10-27) and senior forward Brendan Roberts (11-12-23).

Between the pipes, junior Josh Baker and sophomore Randy Willis are a duo Aitken will call on to step up in his inaugural season, and he feels confident in their ability to win.

“Josh played in a lot of big games last season,” Aitken said. “The team plays with confidence in front of him. He makes the key saves.

“We also have Randy Willis, who is a local kid. He’s played well for us; we need to find a way to score when he’s in.”

Aitken knows what he’s looking for in future players for the program. Playing a vital role in St. Norbert’s recruiting, he has a proven knack for finding the right players.

“I want our players to be responsible for all three zones. They need to capitalize on offensive chances, be solid on special teams.”

The Sabres will look to get back in the win column after dropping two nonconference tilts last weekend, including a 3-1 loss to St. Norbert. Marian will host Northland this weekend; with two wins, the Sabres would gain some ground in the standings and separate themselves with the rest of the Northern Division.

Notes
MSOE climbed back into the national poll this week after a two-game sweep of Bethel over the weekend.

Adrian continues its win streak by hammering St. Mary’s 7-3, and is 7-0-0.

Neither Marian nor Lawrence were able to gain a win against St. Norbert or St. Scholastica last weekend in the NCHA/MCHA Thanksgiving Classic.

MSOE’s senior forward Jordan Keizer earned MCHA Player of the Week honors; he scored the game-winning goal in Friday’s win and added an assist in Saturday’s victory over Bethel.

Senior goalie Brendan Sullivan from Lake Forest was awarded the MCHA Defensive Player of the Week, going 1-0-1 and earning a 4-0 shutout on Friday. The shutout marked the team’s first in three years. Sullivan made 25 saves in the 3-3 tie on Saturday.
Freshman powerhouse Shaq Merasty, of the Adrian Bulldogs, earned MCHA Freshman of the Week accolades for the second time this season; scoring two goals in the 7-3 win over St. Mary’s gave Merasty a nation-tying lead of nine goals on the season so far.


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