The race for the MIAC title is typically tightly contested and there is little margin for error in the quest for the championship. Augsburg comes into the year as the team to beat but there are plenty of challengers poised to take over the top spot. Below is a preview of the season ahead.
Last Year’s Champion: Augsburg won its fourth consecutive MIAC playoff title, something that has never been done before in men’s hockey in the conference. The Auggies won 21 games last season.
Favorites: Saint Thomas is always a contender. Saint John’s should be in the mix as well with the experience it has back. The regular-season matchups between those two rivals could go a long way in deciding the MIAC title.
Dark Horse: Don’t sleep on Concordia. The Cobbers won 13 games last year and return 28 players from a team that finished third in the regular-season standings.
Players to Watch:
Augsburg has the pieces in place to contend for another conference title. The regular-season champs for the second time in four years in addition to their tourney title, the Auggies bring back several key players, including John O’Connor, an All-American who scored two goals and dished out 15 assists.Austin Dollmer is coming off a stellar freshman year in which he tallied eight goals and dished out 13 assists. Jason Krych came through with two goals and 10 assists and Austin Martinsen finished with six goals and eight assists last season. Goalie Daniil Gerasimov won five games and stopped 91.5 percent of the shots he faced.
St. Thomas returns 16 players, including the one-two punch of Brett Gravelle and Johnny Panvica. Gravelle is a two-time All-MIAC pick and lit up the scoreboard for 18 goals, the second-most in the league. He also dished out 13 assists. Gravelle has 41 goals in his career. Panvica came through with five goals and 19 assists. Derek Olmschenk leads the defense for the Tommies. He punched in four goals and dished out nine assists last season. Cam Burggrabe and Luke Radetic are coming off stellar rookie seasons. Buggrabe won 10 games and Radetic scored 14 goals.
Saint John’s has four all-conference picks back, including Brady Heppner, who came through with 15 goals last season, the most on the team. He’s a two-time All-MIAC selection. Kyle Wagner is a key returnee as well after tying for the league lead in assists with 16. Jake Dittel dished out 10 assists. Andrew Lindgren won nine games and recorded three shutouts. He boasted a save percentage of .939. The Johnnies should be in the mix for the title because of the talent they have back this season.
Tyler Bossert leads the way for Concordia, an All-American who led the Cobbers in scoring with 11 goals and 28 assists. He ranked fifth in the nation in assists. Aaron Herdt is coming off a year where he scored 17 goals and dished out 11 assists. He led the league in game-winning goals. Tanner Okeson tallied three goals and 12 assists. Goalie Jacob Stephan is back after sporting a 2.44 goals against average.
Tommy Stang leads the way for Saint Mary’s after leading the team in goals (13) and points (22) last season. Six of his goals came off the power play. Jack Stang was right behind him with 19 points, with 15 coming off assists. Owen Sikich tallied eight goals and nine assists while Kyle Meeh came through with seven goals and eight assists. He and Tommy Stang were first-team All-MIAC picks. Goalie Nick Nast appeared in 20 games and stopped 90 percent of the shots he faced. He had 30 or more saves seven times.
Gustavus returns one of its best playmakers in Caleb Anderson, who dished out a team-high 12 assists to go along with his four goals. Toby Sengvongxay earned a spot on the all-rookie team last year and finished second on the team in goals. Goalie Robbie Goor was an honorable mention all-conference pick last year, starting 10 games and fashioning a 1.92 GAA.
Hamline has two of its best offensive threats back, including Weiland Parrish, who led the Pipers in goals scored with 10 and also tallied five assists. Bailey Martin is also returning for Hamline. He scored six goals and dished out seven assists. The Pipers also return both of their goals in Sam Nelson and Evan Robert. The two combined for 25 starts, with Nelson coming up with 438 saves.Robert made 264 saves.
Roshen Jaswal is coming off his second consecutive honorable mention all-conference selection for St. Olaf. He led the team in points, scoring two goals and dishing out 11 assists. Tuukka Totro tallied three goals and five assists. Luke Ranallo came through with two goals and six assists for the Oles.
Augsburg has been a force in the MIAC, winning 10 or more games nine times in the last 10 seasons. The Auggies have won 17 or more games each of the last four seasons. Their 21 wins last season are the most since the 1997-98 campaign.
St. Thomas head coach Jeff Boeser has been associated with Tommies hockey for 40 years, starting as a player. The Tommies have won six MIAC crowns under Boeser’s guidance during this decade and have recorded 37 consectuive winning seasons.
Saint John’s went 4-1-2 over its last seven games in conference play and made its sixth trip to the MIAC tournament in the last eight years, reaching the title game last season.
Concordia has made seven consecutive appearances in the conference tournament.
Saint Mary’s has been to the MIAC tournament three times in the last five seasons.The Cardinals played in 17 games decided by two goals or less.
Brett Petersen begins his 20th season as the head coach of Gustavus. He has won 236 games in his career with the Gusties.
Bethel endured a 13-game winless streak at one point last season but managed to close the season on a positive note, winning three of its final five games.
Noah Parker earned honorable mention all-conference honors in goal last season. He came through with 559 saves, the most by a goalie in the program since the 2014-15 campaign.