Men’s D-III West: Wisconsin-Stout in midst of renaissance

2018 UW-Stout Men's Hockey vs the Northland College Lumberjacks at home on Saturday December 8th, 2018/ UW - Stout Sports Information Photo Hunter Anderson of Wisconsin-Stout (Kyleah Rusch / UW-Stout Sports Information)
Hunter Anderson of Wisconsin-Stout has 12 points in 17 games. (Kyleah Rusch / UW-Stout Sports Information)

Hunter Anderson is in his second season at Wisconsin-Stout. There is no question he has fit in well with the Blue Devils after starting his career at Alabama-Huntsville.

The junior forward has scored twice and dished out 10 assists in 17 games for a team that is one of the biggest surprises in college hockey.

A winner of just seven games last season, the Blue Devils already have 12 wins at 12-5-1.

“We are playing a lot better, and it’s a lot of fun winning,” Anderson said. “I think with this being my second year, I’m more comfortable with everyone on the team, and I’m playing well.”

Anderson is no stranger to Menomonie, the city Wis.-Stout is in. His dad went to school there, and his grandparents still live in the city. He has other relatives in the area as well.

That made the decision to play closer to home that much easier.

“It was a big factor in coming back here,” Anderson said. “My parents are an hour away, and my grandparents are here. I have a lot of family in the area. It’s a great fit.”

A native of Minnesota, Anderson earned All-WIAC honors last season, tallying seven goals and five assists. He was the fourth-leading scorer on the team.

Anderson is third on the team in points this season and ranks second in assists.

His ability to make plays hardly comes as a surprise, especially with goal scorers such as Logan Nelson, Arturas Laukaitis, and Mathias Ahman to get the puck to. Nelson has scored nine goals. Laukaitis and Ahman have eight and seven goals, respectively.

“I’m comfortable with the guys I’m playing with. Everyone is close-knit,” Anderson said. “The ability to play with different guys has helped me have success.”

He said being consistent in his play has been key as well.

“I’m smarter about the game itself this year, and I bring it every day,” Anderson said. “I’ve been more consistent and have been a leader on and off the ice.”

Sports have always been a big part of Anderson’s life. He played multiple sports growing up, including football and lacrosse. Hockey, though, has always been his favorite.

“I grew up in a huge hockey area and had a friend in preschool who asked me to play, and so I did,” Anderson said. “My parents gave me a lot of opportunities to play sports, and I owe them for my success.”

What led him to playing hockey at the next level is the fact that he loves the feeling of winning in the sport.

“I love football, but winning in hockey has always been a better feeling at each level I’ve played at,” Anderson said.

Speaking of winning, the Blue Devils went into the year feeling good about their chances.

“We did some skates before season and we looked pretty good,” Anderson said. “We had a lot of guys put in work in the off season, and it has showed. You can see the compete level is there, and it’s paying off.”

The Blue Devils still have the heart of their WIAC schedule ahead, including a pair of games with No. 1 Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

The Blue Devils have played just two league games so far, losing 5-1 to Wisconsin-Eau Claire and tying Wisconsin-Superior 1-1.

Having a team with seven players with at least 10 points and a goaltender in Tommi Ahlgren who has 10 wins and a 1.89 goals-against average gives the Blue Devils a lot of confidence going forward.

“One of the great things about our team is we are deep,” Anderson said. “I think if we continue to play as a team and everyone chips in, we can have unlimited success. We just have to keep taking steps forward.”

Five things to know about the West Region
Wis.-Stout averages 3.5 goals per game, which ranks 21st in the nation, and among its scoring leaders is All-American Mathias Ahman, who has seven goals and seven assists.

Tommy Stang of Saint Mary’s is the team leader in goals (six) and points (12). He has scored three of his goals off the power play this year.

Lake Forest is in first place in the South Division of the NCHA. The Foresters have won their last three games. Joe Sardine leads the team with six goals and eight assists.

Tuukka Totro came through with his first two-goal game last weekend in St. Olaf’s 3-2 loss to Wis.-Eau Claire. The Finland native has three goals and three assists on the year.

Tyler Bossert of Concordia leads the MIAC in points with 31. He has dished out a league-best 23 assists for a Concordia team that is just two points out of first place in the standings.

In the Poll
All five of the West Region teams ranked this week are in the top 10. Wisconsin-Stevens Point is the top team. Wisconsin-Eau Claire is third, and Augsburg is fourth. St. Norbert is sixth, and Adrian is ninth.