The Gustavus men’s hockey team will blend some key returners with a large group of fresh, new faces in hopes of finishing near the top of the MIAC and qualifying for the conference playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. Coach Brett Petersen will look to senior All-America defenseman Jon Keseley, senior All-Conference forward Mike Hosfield, and nine returning letterwinners to lead the way for 13 newcomers who will put on the Gustavus sweater for the first time.
Keseley, a high scoring defenseman, and Hosfield, a forward with a gift for lighting the lamp, were the Gusties top two scorers last season with 41 (17g, 24a) and 36 (19g, 17a) points, respectively. Both players were named to the All-Conference team, while Keseley was named to the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America team. Other top returners include senior co-captain Jay Phillips, who will anchor the Gustie defense with Keseley, junior forward Sami Idris (11g, 15a-26 pts.), senior forward Steven Jensen (8g, 10a-18 pts.), senior forward John Arundel (6g, 11a-17 pts.), junior forward Ben Olilla (5g, 11a-16 pts.), and junior forward Tim Ornell (3g, 12a-15 pts.).
While the offense will be the strength of the squad, the defensive end is an area where the squad will be quite inexperienced. Kesely and Phillips are the only two defensemen returning that played significant minutes last year. In addition, Coach Petersen does not return a goaltender that played in more than two games a year ago as graduated senior Erik Kraska played virtually every minute in the nets last season. Junior transfer Niko Suoraniemi (Bemidji State) will be a welcome addition on the defense and sophomore Tomas Liskutin will move into a significant role after playing in 10 games last year. In the nets, Petersen is starting with four netminders. That group includes freshman Nate Fischer, and sophomores Joel Rindelaub, John Paszkiewicz, and Kevin Johnson. Johnson played in two games a year ago compiling a mark of 0-1-0 with a 3.81 goals against average, while Paskiewicz, played in one game and posted a record of 1-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against average. Fischer and Rindelaub have not ever started a collegiate contest.
The Gusties will be tested early as they face three teams that are being mentioned in the national poll to start the season. The opening weekend, Gustavus will face #11 UW-River Falls and UW-Stout on the road, and then the following weekend, the squad will host #10 UW-Superior and #20 St. Scholastica.