MIAC 2011-12 Season Preview

We can agree to disagree. The MIAC Coach’s Poll has the University of St. Thomas as the school to beat in the conference this season.  Meanwhile, back at USCHO, we still have last year’s champs, Hamline University, as the highest-rated team.  The Pied Pipers of Hamline did receive one first place vote in the poll, but are ranked to finish fourth in the conference.  Concordia (Moorehead, Minn.) received three first place votes, but only fared as well as number 3, making the Golden Gusties of Gustavus Adolphus the No. 2 choice in Minnesota’s D-III conference, with no top ranking votes. Agree to disagree is indeed the unofficial slogan for the beginning of this hockey season in the MIAC.

Concordia (Moorehead) Cobbers
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  Third
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  First
2010-11 Overall record:  12-11-4
2010-11 Conference record:  7-5-4
2010-11 Finish:  Fourth
Key returning players: Andrew, Neamonitis, Erick Galt, Marc Harrie, Jaren Collen
Outlook: Coach Chris Howe, the 2010-11 MIAC Coach of the Year, has a solid 1-2 punch in the crease with goalies Kelly Andrew and Chris Neamonitis. The Cobbers also rely on solid team defense and strong special teams play.

University of St. Thomas Tommies
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  First
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  Second
2010-11 Overall record:  14-10-4
2010-11 Conference record:  9-5-2
2010-11 Finish:  Second
Key returning players:  Robby Phillip (Sr.), Chris Hickey (Sr.), Matt Lipinski (Jr.).
Key freshmen:  Alex Altenbernd.
Outlook: Coach Jeff Boeser begins his second campaign behind the Tommies bench after having the interim tag removed from his coaching title. Twenty returning players will support the Tommies quest for the MIAC title.

Gustavus Adolphus Gusties
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  Second
2011-12 USCHO Prediction:  Third 
2010-11 Overall record:  14-9-3
2010-11 Conference record:  8-6-2
2010-11 Finish: Fifth
Key returning players:  Ring-Jarvi, Dane Erickson.
Key departure: Mitch Carlson (D).
Outlook: Coach Brett Petersen will lead the Gusties this year with a team that is deep in the front lines, led by Captain Ross Ring-Jarvi. One major loss was at defense with the graduation of All-American Mitch Carlson.

Hamline Pipers
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  Fourth
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  Fourth
2010-11 Overall record:  17-7-5
2010-11 Conference record:  9-3-4
2010-11 Finish:  First
Key returning players: Brian Arrigoni, Jordan VanGlider, Beau Christian.
Key departed player: Chris Berenguer.
Outlook:  First year Coach Scott Steffen replaces Scott Bell behind the bench.  Hamline does have a solid team returning, but will miss MIAC Player of the Year Chris Berenguer.

St. Olaf Oles
2011-12 Coach’s Poll:  Fifth
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  Fifth
2010-11 Overall record:  11-10-4
2010-11 Conference record:  5-7-4
2010-11 Finish:  Sixth
Key returning players: Derek Grogan, Charlie Raskob, Ben Leis, Jack Nicoll.
Outlook:  Coach Sean Goldsworthy’s Oles have a chance this year to break into the upper echelon of the MIAC.  With a solid group of scorers, if defense and goaltending holds up, this group could surprise.

Augsburg Auggies
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  Sixth
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  Sixth
2010-11 Overall record:  14-9-3
2010-11 Conference record:  8-6-2
2010-11 Finish:  Third
Key returning players:  David Hines, Justin Lochner, Trevor Doden.
Outlook: Coach Chris Brown lost many talented scorers due to graduation. The Auggies will have a solid defense, and if the Auggies can find some new firepower, they will be better off than the projected sixth-place finish.

St. John Johnnies
2011-12 Coach’s Poll:  Eighth
2011-12 USCHO Prediction:  Seventh
2010-11 Overall Record:  6-17-2
2010-11 Conference Record:  5-9-2
2010-11 Finish:  Seventh
Key returning players:  Joe Harren, Trent Johnson, Josh Gross.
Key departures:  Pat McClure, Brent Brodersen, James Olmscheid, Mike Walgren.
Outlook: Coach Doug Schuller hopes the Johnnies can have a fast start to the season and not repeat last year’s sluggish beginning. That could propel St. John’s to better its seventh-place finish. The defense will have a different look since graduating three from last year’s squad.

St. Mary’s Cardinals
2011-12 Coach’s poll:  Ninth
2011-12 USCHO prediction:  Eighth
2010-11 Overall record:  6-17-2
2010-11 Conference record:  5-9-2
2010-11 Finish:  Eighth
Key returning players:  Kevin Wentland, Austin Balko, Tom Healy, Nate Peterson.
Outlook: St. Mary’s does have an experienced team. Coach Bill Moore’s crew displayed glimpses of hope toward the end of last season. Here’s hoping the Cardinals can put that experience to good use and move up the ladder in the MIAC.

Bethel Royals
2011-12 Coach’s Poll: Seventh
2011-12 USCHO Prediction: Ninth
2010-11 Overall Record: 4-17-4
2010-11 Conference Record: 3-9-4
2010-11 Finish: Ninth
Key returning players: Jack Paul, Jon Crouse.
Key freshmen: EJ Gann, Grant Dye, Tyler Swanson, Robby Brown.
Outlook: Coach Charlie Burggraf is hoping for an improved season after finishing last in the 2010-11 MIAC campaign. A deep incoming class could give the Royals the shot needed to escape the cellar.