St. Thomas again the favorite in the MIAC

Last year’s champion

St. Thomas and Bethel shared the regular season title, as they both finished the season with 26 points and a 12-4-3 conference record. St. Thomas won the MIAC Tournament for the third-straight season.

Favorites
St. Thomas is the returning champ and has the advantage heading into the season.

Dark horse
With their history, it seems impossible to call Gustavus Adolphus a dark horse, but they were ranked fourth in the preseason poll. They missed the playoffs last season and have a lot of pride to regain this season. They’ll be gunning for St. Thomas.

Players to watch
St. Thomas will rely on the goal-scoring abilities of MIAC Player-of-the-Year Kathryn Larson. She led the team in goals, assists, and points. Goalie Kenzie Torpy was impressive in net as a rookie, earning a 20-4-2 record. Leah Schwarzman and Becca Zarembinski were second and third on the team in scoring as freshmen and look to build on that experience.

First team all-MIAC forward Lauren Kolak will anchor the offense at Bethel. Seniors Megan O’Brien and Hannah Williams bring leadership and experience and Michelle Klimstra will look to build on last season in the net.

Andrea Klug had eight shutouts in net for Concordia (Minn.) last season and will look to a seasoned blue line to keep the goals-against down. Tori Davis’ 17 goals and Jess Nelson’s 16 assists led the squad last season. Davis also led the league in goals in conference play.

Gustavus was 11th in the country, averaging 2.80 goals scored per game and will be looking to co-captain and all-MIAC selections Erica Power and Diana Draayer to continue that trend. Powers is the team’s leading returning scorer. They were second in the country with eight short-handed goals, so teams need to watch for their speed on special teams.

Three different goalies have seen time in net for Augsburg already this season, so figuring out their netminder situation will be crucial to their success. Captain Danielle Heitkamp was an All-Conference Honorable Mention winner and brings her experience to the blue line.

Saint Mary’s has six seniors, including Marah Shields in net. They’ll be counting on first team all-MIAC forward Jamie Henderson, who led the team in goals and points.

Freshman Bre Simon already had four goals and two assists in three games played for Hamline. They’ll be looking for Jamie Hathaway to step up in net.

St. Benedict senior forward Elli Marvin was the team’s leading scorer last season and has four goals — including a hat trick — and two assists in two games already this season. Hoping to join in on that will be Brigette Miller, who tied for the team lead with 16 points and finished second on the team with nine goals. She was an All-MIAC honorable mention.

St. Catherine was incredibly solid last season on defense thanks to goalie Kristen Pechaceck. She earned all-MIAC and second-team All-American honors. She was second in the country and first in the MIAC with a .960 save percentage. Sophomore Laken Muller is the only returning Wildcat to have tallied double-digits last season.

The Oles return their three highest scorers in Hannah Forliti, Jane Vezina, and Megan Skelly. St. Olaf saw three different goalies see playing time last season and is carrying a fourth netminder this year.

Notes
Hamline was the sixth most penalized team in the country, but was just 79.6 percent on the penalty kill.

St. Thomas started the year at No. 6 in the polls. Bethel received votes, but did not crack the top 10. Last season was the Tommies’ fourth MIAC championship. St. Thomas was the runaway preseason favorite, but just six points separated the next three teams.

It was Bethel’s first women’s hockey conference championship in program history.

Just six points separated the top six teams when the season ended.

Saint Mary’s coach Terry Mannor collected his 100th career win already in the young season.

Of St. Catherine’s 15 losses, 10 were by two goals or fewer. St. Catherine’s finished last season ranked second in the country on the penalty kill with a 93.8 percent success rate.

St. Olaf took a trip to Italy this past summer and played multiple games against international opponents.

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