Adrian should once again rule the MCHA

Adrian’s three-year stranglehold is the Midwestern Collegiate Hockey Association’s storyline entering the 2010-2011 campaign. The Bulldogs are poised to make it a four-year talking point.

The perennial league leaders return a cavalcade of proven collegiate players who have claimed numerous honors, like last season’s  MCHA Player of the Year Mike Dahlinger (10 goals and 36 assists for 46 points).

Despite three league titles, the Bulldogs don’t feel they’ve quite done enough outside the MCHA circuit. St. Norbert’s dumped the team out of the NCAA Division III playoffs in the first round during the school’s first-ever national tournament appearance.

Ron Fogarty’s forces are eager to rectify their tournament fumble. While looking ahead, though, there are rumblings from behind.

Marian, whose second place achievement earned Jasen Wise MCHA Coach of the Year, returns leading scorers Dakota Dubetz (15-17-32) and Brendon Hull (16-14-30).

Other developing narratives include coaching debuts by John McCabe at Finlandia and Seamus Gregory at Lake Forest. McCabe assumes the Lions helm after serving as an assistant at Alabama-Hunstville while erstwhile Forester assistant Gregory replaces 32-year veteran Tony Fritz.

On a more dubious note, though, Concordia will look to break a winless drought that extends back to February 2009.

Click on the team name for an in-depth preview.

Head coach: Ron Fogarty (Fourth season, 77-8-1 overall)
2009-10 record: 24-4-0, 20-0-0, First place with 40 points
2009-10 power play: 45-144, .312 percent conversion
2009-10 penalty kill: 16-161, .91.5 percen
Key returners: F Mike Dahlinger, D Chris Stansik, F Zack Graham, G Brad Fogel
Key losses: F Kyle Frieday, D Rob Hodnicki, D Kyle Crawford
2010-11 predicted finish: First
Bottom line: Members of this senior-laden side are acutely aware this is the last chance if it wants to capture a DIII title. Any hiccups, especially those due to looking ahead to March, will be this proven MCHA juggernaut’s main concern.

Head coach: Jasen Wise (Seventh season, 87-71-10)
2009-10 record: 20-7-0, 18-2-0, Second place with 32 points
2009-10 power play: 34-153 .222 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 125-158 .791 percent
Key returners: F Brendon Hull, F Dakota Dubetz, D Tommy Fitzpatrick, D Nathan Brummitt
Key losses: F Nick Cinquegrani, D Nick Henkemeyer, D Ryan Hitchcock
2010-11 predicted finish: Second
Bottom line: Last season’s MCHA Coach of the Year Jasen Wise has bolstered the roster with solid recruits in Matt Williams (Brook Bandits AJHL)  and Robbie Bailey (Powell River Kings BCHL) and is eager to end Adrian’s reign.

Milwaukee School of Engineering
Head coach: Mark Ostapina (129-107-10, 10th season)
2009-10 record: 14-11-2, 12-7-1 Third place with 25 points
2009-10 power play: 37-182 .203 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 117-141 .830 percent
Key returners: F Bradley Tierney,  F Michael Soik,  F Todd Krupa, D Michael Johnson.
Key losses: F Steve Smiddy, D Michael Johnson
2010-11 predicted finish: Third
Bottom line: The Raiders have a plethora of returning sophomores, four of whom, led by Tierney, (9-17-26)  — finished among the team’s top 10 scorers. Junior Goaltender Conner Toomey, who carried the load last season, will be counted on heavily.

Head coach: Mike Szkodzinski (Fifth season, 49-55-8)
2009-10 record: 10-16-2, 7-11-2, Fifth place with 16 points
2009-10 power play: 30-144 .208 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 132-162 .815 percent
Key returners: F Ben DiMarco, D Jameson Raymond, G Evan Johnson
Key losses: F Marc Howe, D Mike Ackley, F Billy Siers
2010-11 predicted finish: Fourth
Bottom line: With losses of leading scorer Marc Howe (19-13-32) and Swede Gustav Ahlberg (11-9-20), the Vikings will rely on forward Ben DiMarco and defenseman Jameson Raymond to generate offense. Senior netminder Evan Johnson needs to rebound from a subpar season after a breakthrough campaign in 2008-09 when he posted seven shutouts.

Lake Forest
Head coach: Seamus Gregory (First season)
2009-10 record: 9-16-2, 8-10-2 Fourth place with 18 points
2009-10 power play: 28-174 .161 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 135-179 .754 percent
Key returners: F Thomas Bark, D Mike Rubino, F Marc Rubinio
Key losses: F Justin Taylor, F Sean Farley, F Adam Love
2010-11 predicted finish: Fifth
Bottom line: With the retirement 32-year bench boss Tony Fritz, Foresters coach Seamus Gregory ushers in a new era. The team needs to stay out of the penalty box, averaging a league-leading 28.8 PIM a game, but ranking seventh in penalty kill  last season.

Head coach: John McCabe (First season)
2009-10 record: 5-17-3, 4-14-2, Seventh place with 10 points
2009-10 power play: 17-164 .104 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 116-145 .800 percent
Key returners: F Nemanja Jankovic, F Charles Benik, G Ryan Donovan
Key losses: D Quinn McIntosh, F James Neitsch, F Brandon VanAcker
2010-11 predicted finish: Sixth
Bottom line: Name tags might be needed, as new coach John McCabe introduces 12 freshmen this season. Ryan Donovan is proven netminder, but needs to lower his goal-against (4.90) if the Lions are to escape the lower tier of the standings.

Head coach: Steve Fabiilli (13-118-3, Sixth season)
2009-10 record: 5-21-1, 5-14-1, Sixth place with 11 points
2009-10 power play: 24-137 .175 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 113-154 .734 percent
Key returners: F Kraig Wright, F Chad Moore, F Nicholas Hewko
Key losses: D Matt Tanneberg, F Nick Doiron, F Jake Carlson
2010-11 predicted finish: Seventh
Bottom line: The Lumberjacks have proven scorers in Kraig Wright (12-19-31) and Chad Moore (12-18-30), but need to shore up at defense where six freshmen will debut with senior Daniel McIntosh, who is the school’s leader in minutes played.

Head coach: Tony Hrkac (6-67-6, Fourth season)
2009-10 record: 0-20-5,  0-16-4 Eighth place with no points
2009-10 power play: 23-153 .150 percent
2009-10 penalty kill: 108-144 .750 percent
Key returners: F Jonathan Smith, F Greg Douglas, G Michael Wyenn
Key losses: F Niclas Soderberg,
2010-11 predicted finish: Eighth
Bottom line: The Falcons entered the season with a 30-game winless streak that extends to Feb  6, 2009, when they beat  Marian 4- 3 in overtime.


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