St. Olaf expects defensive depth to help down the stretch

St. Olaf’s strategy this season appears to be the classic strategy of lie-in-wait and then attack at dusk.

Despite the Oles’ projected fifth place finish in the MIAC preseason coaches poll, coach Sean Goldsworthy expects his charges to garner momentum down the stretch and become a playoff contender. The team has qualified for MIAC postseason action six of the past seven seasons.

The team’s 2-2 start suggests the wait part is in effect.

“This year’s poll reflects more of the final standings last season, where we finished fifth,” said Goldsworthy, who’s in his 14th season as Oles’ bench boss. “We have a strong nucleus of returning players with nice additions at forward and defense in our incoming class.”

“I believe our depth and balance will be a determining factor in our success as the year progresses.”

In Isak Tranvik and Britton Smith, Goldsworthy believes he has two of the more dynamic forwards in the MIAC.

Tranvik, who had a team-leading 14 points and 18 assists last season, is a prototypical two-way centerman who makes his wingers better. The St. Paul, Minn., native transfered from Divison I Qunniapic as a sophomore.

Smith is coming off a superior sophomore campaign where he scored a career-high 17 goals and added 13 assists.

“Britton is a classic power forward who possess speed, skill and a physical presence on the ice,” Goldsworthy said of the 6-foot-1 Academy of Holy Angels junior product.

In the early-going, the Oles have received an added jolt from junior forwards Austin Wetmore (two goals, three assists) and Peter Rohn (three goals, one assist).

Rohn, a junior transfer from D-I Michigan Tech, netted the game-winner in the team’s 3-2 season-opening win over St. John’s in the MIAC Showcase Oct. 30. The native of Vettre, Norway had three goals and three assists in 32 games at MTU. Prior to college, Rohn played at the Norwegian Academy of Elite Sports.

On the blue line, junior Charlie Raskob and Derek Grogan provide the depth that the coach believes will be the Oles’ eventual trump card. Raskob and Grogan both see time on the power play and in regular-strength situations.

The Oles’ goaltending-by-committee strategy features junior Ben Leis and senior Nick Krauss, who also shared duties last season.
Leis was 6-4-3 with a 2.51 goals-against while Krauss finished 6-6-1 with a 3.14 GAA.

This season, Krauss was in goal for victories over St. John’s and St. Thomas and had a gleaming 1.50 goals-against average to go along with a stellar .932 save-percentage.

By contrast, Leis was 0-2 with a 3.04 GAA and .878 save-percentage. The tag-team approach has its advantages.

“The advantage (of rotating goalies) in a shortened season is depth and the ability to overcome injuries,” Goldsworthy said. “Both have played as number one goaltenders and have the ability to win games in our league.”