St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s hockey team is set to open its 2013-14 season against Saint Mary’s in a non-conference contest on Saturday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Saturday’s opening face off is set for 2:00 p.m.
Ranked fourth in the USCHO.com preseason poll, the Gusties will set their sights on a 10th consecutive regular season MIAC Championship and an 11th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning both the regular season and playoff MIAC titles a year ago.
After finishing the regular season 26-0-1 last year, Gustavus entered the NCAA Tournament as one of just three NCAA Division III women’s hockey programs to finish a season without a loss in the NCAA Championship era. However, the streak would eventually come to an end with a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to Elmira, the eventual national champion, in the semifinals.
With the graduation of a senior class that played in a combined 566 career games, the Gusties will have big shoes to fill this season. The class of 2013 featured three All-Conference players in Lindsey Hjelm, Kelsey Kennedy, and Meagan Wanecke along with the MIAC’s Player of the Year (Hjelm). Hjelm and Kennedy were also named first- and second-team All-Americans in their senior campaigns, leaving large holes in the Gustie lineup.
However, with all that Gustavus lost last season, the Gusties still return 71 percent of their scoring and nearly all of their goaltending from a year ago. Head Coach Mike Carroll, now in his 15th season at the helm of the women’s hockey program, welcomes back 10 letterwinners from last season, including captains Melissa Doyle (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.), Carolyn Draayer (Deephaven, Minn.), and Courtney Boucher (Jr., Hastings, Minn.). Last year, Doyle scored 10 goals and added nine assists for 19 points, while Draayer notched 13 goals and seven assists for 20 points and Boucher tallied five goals and four assists for nine points.
Along with Boucher, the Gusties also return All-Conference defender Maddie Bergh (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.). Bergh is coming off her first career All-Conference honor in 2012-13, and will anchor the Gustavus blue line this season. She will be joined by fellow senior Amanda Cartony (Sr., Stillwater, Minn.), who will make the switch from cleats to skates next week after playing her final soccer match this Saturday afternoon. All-Conference Honorable Mention honoree Marissa Brandt (Jr., Vadnais Heights, Minn.) will also bring valued experience to a defense that features four first-year defenders in Courtney Buthune (Fort Frances, Ont.), Lydia Wagner (Zumbrota, Minn.), Mikaela Algren (Prior Lake, Minn.), and Courtney Potter (Dayton, Minn.).
Up front, Doyle and Draayer welcome back sophomore Allison Eder-Zdechlik (Stillwater, Minn.), who led the team in goals scored a year ago with 14. Eder-Zdechlik was named to both the All-Conference Honorable Mention and All-Rookie teams after leading all first-year players in scoring with 14 goals and 10 assists for 24 points last season. Gustavus will also look for returners Keri Pickel (Sr., Rochester, Minn.), Leah Johnson (Jr., Chanhassen, Minn.), and Emily Reibert (So., Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) to have increased roles offensively after scoring four points (1G, 3A), 10 points (4G, 6A), and six points (3G, 3A) last season, respectively.
Also joining the ranks at the forward position are junior Krystal Baumann (Farmington, Minn.) and first-years Halie Gudmonson (Albertville, Minn.), Emily Gustafson (Esko, Minn.), Hannah Heacox (Stillwater, Minn.), Riley Viner (South St. Paul, Minn.), Callie Johnson (Detroit Lakes, Minn.), Allie Lewis (Kearney, Neb.), and Megan Tragiai (Shoreview, Minn.).
Between the pipes, the Gusties return their top two goaltenders in Lindsey Hibbard (So., Princeton, Minn.) and Tara Hoverstad (So., Coon Rapids, Minn.). In her rookie season, Hibbard earned a record of 16-2-1 in 22 games played. She logged 1,129:33 in net, allowing 30 goals for a goals against average of 1.59 to go along with 288 saves. Tara Hoverstad played in seven games a year ago, tallying a record of 7-0-0. The sophomore logged 446:30 and gave up six goals for a goals against average of 0.81, making 97 saves along the way.
Gustavus also looks forward to having senior Marah Sobczak (Lake Elmo, Minn.) back after she was away from the team last year recovering from a serious car accident. In her first two seasons as a Gustie (2010-11, 2011-12), Sobczak played in 17 games, making 10 starts and recording a record of 7-2-0. She logged 627:27 in net and allowed 17 goals for a goals against average of 1.63 to go along with 150 saves.
Following Saturday’s non-conference match up with Saint Mary’s, the Gusties, picked to win the MIAC title in the preseason poll, will host UW-Superior next weekend before beginning conference play on Nov. 15th at Concordia.