With two national titles in the last eight years, UMD has cemented its place as the State of Hockey’s premier college hockey program. But the secret is out on the Bulldogs, who return most of their core players like sophomore stud Scott Perunovich (Hibbing) and lights-out goaltender Hunter Shepard (Cohasset). Will Scott Sandelin’s (Hibbing) group make another run?
After leading St. Cloud State for 13 years, Bob Motzko has returned to the University of Minnesota. The Austin, Minnesota native and former Gopher assistant promises to bring a more free-flowing and offensive style of play to Mariucci, but the Big Ten Conference is looking stronger than ever. Can he bring the program back to the top? Freshmen Blake McLaughlin (Grand Rapids) and reigning Mr. Hockey Sammy Walker (Edina) could help ignite the scoring.
Now in his fourth season at the helm in Mankato, 1980 Miracle on Ice hero John Harrington (Virginia) believes this is the year the Mavericks make a big leap. Rebekah Kolstad (Mankato), Corbin Boyd (Hopkins) and Jordan McLaughlin (Grand Rapids) are three local seniors who will be relied on heavily.
Motzko’s move to Dinkytown left a coveted job opening in the Granite City. Enter Duluth native Brett Larson, who helped UMD to its two national titles. Larson is known as a top recruiter and developer. He inherits a strong program with Hobey Baker hopefuls returning in Jimmy Schuldt (Minnetonka) and Ryan Poehling (Lakeville North).
Golden goalie Maddie Rooney (Andover) and high-powered forward Kelly Pannek (Plymouth) return to Duluth and Dinkytown, respectively, after an unforgettable 2018 Olympics. Many other Olympic players have returned to their campuses, which, along with another tremendously talented crop of incoming freshmen, could make for one of the best seasons of women’s college hockey yet. With Pannek’s return as senior captain and sophomore Grace Zumwinkle (Excelsior) ready to defend her WCHA scoring title, the Gophers hope to return to the Frozen Four for the astonishing ninth time in 11 seasons.
Hockey Day Minnesota is coming to Bemidji. Here’s the schedule for this year’s three-day event, Jan. 17-19, 2019.
Thur., Jan. 17 | 7 p.m. | Bemidji vs. Woodbury - Girls' | Lake Bemidji
Fri., Jan. 18 | 7 p.m. | Bemidji State vs. Michigan Tech Univ. - Men's | Lake Bemidji
Sat., Jan. 19 | 9:30 a.m. | Minnetonka vs. Andover - Boys' | Lake Bemidji
Sat., Jan. 19 | 1 p.m. | Bemidji State vs. Minnesota State Mankato - Women's | Lake Bemidji
Sat., Jan. 19 | 4:30 p.m. | Bemidji vs. Greenway – Boys’ | Lake Bemidji
Sat., Jan. 19 | 7:30 p.m. | Bemidji State vs. Michigan Tech Univ. - Men's | Sanford Center
Sat., Jan. 19 | 8 p.m. | Minnesota Wild vs. Columbus Blue Jackets | Xcel Energy Center
“Our hockey roots run deep, from our long-established youth and high school programs through Division I programs at Bemidji State University and we can’t wait to showcase that history and all of what the first city on the Mississippi has to offer,” event organizer Brian Bissonette said.
MIAC Means Business
Competition and talent runs deep in the State of Hockey’s Division III landscape. Here are three things to watch this season.
St. Thomas is the early favorite to repeat as MIAC champions. The Tommies return First Team All-MIAC selections Brett Gravelle (Forest Lake) and Johnny Panvica (Bloomington), who shared the team lead in points with 30 last season.
The men’s and women’s hockey teams at St. Olaf will be moving into their new home soon. new home of Ole men’s and women’s hockey is set to open in January. The new $8 million state of the art facility will be built on campus and hold 800 seats.
Under the direction of Minnesota legend Natalie Darwitz, the Hamline Pipers played their best season of hockey in program history last year. The Pipers won the MIAC Playoff championship for the first time ever, and upset powerhouse Plattsburgh State to capture third place in the NCAA Tournament. Junior Bre Simon (Elk River) finished second in the country with 56 points last season. Darwitz will be inducted to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2018 on Dec. 12.