The Gustavus women’s hockey team returns 12 letterwinners from a squad that compiled a record of 25-3 overall and won the MIAC title with a record of 18-0 in 2007-08. Coach Mike Carroll will need to replace three of the team’s top four scorers, but he returns All-Conference forward Mari Gunderson (Sr., Shoreview, Minn./Moundsview), who scored 17 goals and contributed six assists for 23 points, and All-Conference defender Kirstin Peterson (So., St. Paul, Minn./Hill-Murray), who added three goals and 15 assists for 18 points.
Joining Gunderson up front will be veteran forwards Melissa Mackley (Jr., Burnsville, Minn.), Lynn Hillen (Jr., Minnetonka, M inn./Holy Angels), Jessie Doig (Sr., New Prague, Minn.), Laura Hillman (Jr., Albert Lea, Minn.), Christine Wicker (Sr., Burnsville, Minn./Apple Valley) and Alyssa Saunders (Jr., Wayzata, Minn./Blake). Mackley is the second leading returning scorer with four goals and 14 assists for 18 points. While Mackley was one of the top playmakers, Doig was one of the top goal scorers with eight goals and seven assists for 15 points and Hillen tallied seven goals and eight assists for 15 points.
Joining Peterson on the blue line will be senior Jenny Pusch (Minneapolis, Minn./Holy Angels), junior Claire Opsahl (Eagan, Minn.), and sophomores Kelsey Johnson (Stillwater, Minn.) and Sara Yungner (Maple Grove, Minn./Wayzata). This group combined to register 18 goals and 50 assists last season, while anchoring a Gustie defense that led Division III in scoring defense allowing only 26 goals in 28 games (0.93 per game).
In the nets, the Gusties do not have a returning goaltender, but Coach Carroll is fortunate to have a trio of talented newcomers including Danielle Justice, an All-State honoree from State Champion Alexandria, Emily Klatt, an honorable mention All-State selection from Woodbury, and Osa Donovan, who played junior hockey with the Toronto Rattlers last year.
Joining the three new goalkeepers will be eight other first year players who will look to contribute on the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. That group includes forwards Allie Schwab (Stillwater, Minn.), Gracie Olson (Apple Valley, Minn./Holy Angels), Mollie Carroll (Eagan, Minn.), Whitney Schaff (Cambridge, Minn.), Kathryn DelZoppo (Alexandria, Minn.), and Alyssa Gaulrapp (Maple Grove, Minn.) and defenders Gina Denucci (Chanhassen, Minn./Minnetonka) and Nara Higano (Rochester, Minn./Mayo).
Coach Mike Carroll is hoping that his 12 returning veterans and 11 talented newcomers will join together to help the Gusties claim their sixth consecutive conference title in 2008-09. Gustavus seniors Mari Gunderson, Jessie Doig, Jenny Pusch (co-captain), and Christine Wicker (co-captain) have helped the program post a record of 72-11-2 overall and 52-1-1 in the MIAC during the past three years.
Gustavus, which is currently rated #5 in the USCHO.com Division III poll, has been tabbed as the pre-season favorite to win the 2008-09 MIAC Title by the MIAC women’s hockey coaches.