Men’s Hockey Kicks Off 75th Season This Weekend At MIAC Showcase

Posted on October 28th, 2016 by

ST. PETER, Minn. – After a quick two weeks of preseason practice, the Gustavus men’s hockey team is set to kick off its 75th season at the MIAC Showcase in Blaine, Minn. Friday and Saturday with a pair of non-conference games. The Gusties take on Saint John’s at 7 p.m. tonight followed by a 6:30 p.m. game tomorrow against St. Olaf.

“We are going to try to play everybody this weekend because we have the opportunity to do that in this great event of our league,” Head Coach Brett Petersen said, who is in his 17th season at the helm. “I really like the showcase, I think it’s a great way to kick off our season. Our guys look forward to seeing the other teams at the facility in Blaine. No matter how you slice it, it’s an awfully quick turnaround from starting last Monday to playing two games in your first two weeks, but everyone is on the same playing field.”

The 2016-17 Gusties feature 18 returners, three of which are goalies who bring a lot of familiarity with the program. Chris Amsden (So., St. Peter, Minn.) and Erik Johnson (Sr., Sauk Rapids, Minn.) saw the most time between the pipes last year. Amsden was named to the 2015-16 MIAC All-Rookie Team after logging 801:36 in goal with a 2.62 goals against average, .911 save percentage, and a 2-8-2 record. Johnson played in 11 games last year with a 3.22 goals against average, .897 save percentage, and a 4-5-1 record.

“I’m excited for Chris because he played the whole season last year with a torn labrum in his hip, which he had fixed the week after our season ended,” Petersen said. “So now for the first time in a long time he’s healthy. He hasn’t been able to feel that way in a long time.”

Although the Gusties ranked last in the MIAC last season in goal scoring, averaging 2.17 goals per game, they do return their top eight point-scores from last year. Sam Majka (Sr., Wayzata, Minn.) led the team in scoring last season with 18 points on five goals and a team-best 13 assists. Colin Hernon (Jr., Bloomington, Minn.) had the most goals on the team with eight, while adding eight assists for 16 points. Van Sullivan (So., Brentwood, Tenn.) was close behind with 15 points on six goals and nine assists.

“Our strengths last year were in goal and on the blue line, but the root of our evil was lack of offensive production, so that of course becomes the number one question mark going into this year,” Petersen said. “We are hoping we can find someone or a group that can do it more consistently than we did last year.”

Just as they did last season, Majka, Jared Docken (Sr., Northfield, Minn.), and Drew Aspinwall (Sr., Maple Grove, Minn.) will lead the team as captains. Majka will wear the ‘C,’ while Docken and Aspinwall will wear the ‘A.’

“All three are capable of adding more production on their plate, and we need all three of them to lead us,” Petersen said. “I think they also realize that this is their last year and certainly would like to go out with a much better taste in their mouth than the last couple of years. That’s very fair to say.”

Along with the 18 returning veterans, the program welcomes eight first-years and two transfers to complete the 28-man roster.

“We like the new group a lot,” Petersen said. “We had to make some difficult decisions in the first week, but those decisions were with the intention of upgrading the offense as much as we can. That’s the big issue right now.”

The 2016-17 campaign features a 25-game schedule – nine non-conference and 16 league games. The nine non-league games include Saint John’s, St. Olaf, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout (two games), St. Scholastica, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior, and UW-River Falls. Conference play begins Nov. 11 with a series against St. Thomas. Four of the Gusties’ opponents are ranked in the Top-15 Preseason Poll, including No. 1 UW-Stevens Point, who Gustavus faces in the home opener on Nov. 4.



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