The Gustavus women’s hockey team kicks off its 2011-12 campaign Friday, Nov. 4, playing host to Concordia University of Mequon, Wis. The match-up will begin the long road in the Gusties’ pursuit of reaching a ninth-consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships. Five-time MIAC Coach-of-the-Year Mike Carroll, now in his 13th season at the helm, returns 18 letterwinners from a team that posted a 22-5-3 overall record and 14-2-2 MIAC mark, which led to a seventh-straight conference title.
All-Conference selections Amanda Cartony (So., Stillwater, Minn.) and Lindsey Hjelm (Jr., North Oaks, Minn.) along with Danielle Justice (Sr., Alexandria, Minn.) and Allie Schwab (Sr., Stillwater, Minn.), who both earned honorable mention recognition, will anchor an experienced group of upperclassmen and show the ropes to nine new first-years. Senior captain Mollie Carroll (Eagan, Minn.) and fellow forwards Cartony, Hjelm and Schwab led the Gusties as the top four point-scorers last season – accounting for 46 goals and 50 assists – and will lead the charge up front once again.
“We have our top four point-scorers back this season, so that’s an area we feel we will build upon,” Head Coach Mike Carroll acknowledged. “Over the offseason, we wanted to improve our size and strength, and that improvement is starting to show during practice. After the first week of practice we are fairly optimistic that the goals we set in the spring are moving forward.”
Defensively, the Gusties will need to replace three seniors from last season, including three-time All-American Kirstin Peterson, who now serves as the team’s assistant coach. Assistant captain Jess Harren (Jr., Woodbury, Minn.), Maddie Bergh (So., Eden Prairie, Minn.), Gina DeNucci (Sr., Chanhassen, Minn.) and Kelsey Kennedy (Jr., Eagan, Minn.) will look to fill the void left at the blue line. Bergh made the MIAC All-Rookie Team last year as a part of a defense that allowed an average of 1.00 goals per game during the league season.
In the nets, Coach Carroll will rely on Danielle Justice who led the MIAC last year with a goals against average of 1.34. In 26 starts, the senior goalie recorded 434 saves with a save percentage of .925 en route to a 17-5-3 record, including seven shutouts. Justice currently holds the highest save percentage (.936) in program history among goalies with at least 200 career minutes and will extend the program’s record for most minutes in goal (3668:56).
Areas of improvement that Coach Carroll said have been a focus leading up to the season include special teams skills, the penalty kill and finishing scores. Some may view the Gustavus Head Coach as a perfectionist since the Gusties led the MIAC in special teams net last season with a +21 advantage over their opponents (33 power play goals for, one short-handed goal against; 11 power play goals against, zero short-handed goals for).
The Gustie women enter the 2011-12 season ranked No. 7 on the USCHO.com preseason poll and they top the MIAC Coaches’ Poll.
|2011-12 MIAC Women’s
Hockey Coaches’ Poll