The 2004-05 Men’s Hockey season opens up Friday, November 5 with a month of non-conference games. The conference season begins the first weekend of December. The MIAC returns fifteen out of twenty-one All-Conference members from last season, along with co-player of the year Dustan Lick from the University of St. Thomas. With a majority of the stars returning, this season will prove to be very competitive.

Saint John’s University, the Preseason Coaches Poll favorite, will attempt to defend their regular season conference title that they have won for the past two seasons. The Johnnies return six of their top seven scorers from last season and four All-Americans and are ranked 7th nationally in the Preseason USCHO Poll. With twenty-three total players returning Saint John’s will look to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament, something that eluded them last season after St. Thomas defeated them in the MIAC Playoffs to earn the conference’s automatic bid.

St. Thomas is predicted to finish second in the conference after an impressive 2003-04 campaign. The Tommies finished second in the regular season behind Saint John’s, but defeated them in the MIAC Playoff Championship game. They earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tourament, where they were defeated in the first round by UW-River Falls 3-2 in overtime. The Tommies return fourteen of their top sixteen players from last season and are ranked #11 in the USCHO Preseason Poll. They will look to last year’s conference co-player of the year Dustan Lick to do much of their scoring. St. Thomas hopes to get off to a hot start as 10 of their first 14 games are on home ice.

Gustavus finished third last season and that is right where the Preseason Coaches Poll has them for this season. The Gusties graduated eight key players from last season, but have plenty returning this season. A key for the Gusties may be the play of sophomore goalkeeper Brett Sawyer who will have some big shoes to fill as he steps in for graduated All-American Dan Melde in goal. The Gusties are looking for their third consecutive MIAC Playoff appearance.

St. Olaf is picked fourth in the Preseason Coaches Poll after finishing fifth last season in the conference. The Oles made their first postseason appearance last season and hope to make it back for a second straight season. They will rely on the trio of Keith Townsend, Kyle Hilmershausen, and Josh Biser to shoulder the scoring load as they combined for 30 goals and 28 assists last season.

Augsburg is picked fifth and much of this will depend on the how well the youngsters do. The Auggies have only three seniors on the roster, but have added several solid freshmen to the mix and believe that their sophomores and juniors will provide a lot of leadership as well. The Auggies will look for the “youth movement” to lead them to the MIAC Playoffs.

Concordia is predicted to finish in sixth place in the conference. They are hoping to improve on last season’s record of 5-17-3 overall, 4-10-2 MIAC. They will look to Shawn Kleven and Jon Rudnck to lead the way as they both earned Honorable Mention Honors last season.

Saint Mary’s finished fourth last season, but the coaches have them slotted in the seventh spot to start the season due in large part to the loss of 11 graduating seniors. The Cardinals will look to goalkeeper Ryne Ess to keep them in games while the young talent meshes and gains confidence.

Bethel will rely heavily on sophomore goaltender Dustin Thompson. Thompson will look to keep the Royals in many games with his goaltending abilities.

Hamline has a new head coach which they hope will bring a new attitude and more victories. Brown has some cornerstones to turn to as he returns four of the top five scorers from last season as well as senior goalie John Harstad.

This year’s playoff, a single-elimination tournament, will be hosted by the high seed in each game. A play-in game will be contested between the fourth and fifth seeds on March 1. The winner of the play-in game will then face the top seed in the first semifinal match-up on March 3. The second and third-seeded teams will play each other in the other semifinal game. The semifinal winners will then play for the playoff championship Saturday, March 5. The winner of the playoff receives the MIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Pre-Season Coaches Poll
1 St. John's (5) 77
2 St. Thomas (4) 76
3 Gustavus 63
4 St. Olaf 48
5 Augsburg 46
6 Concordia 35
7 St. Mary's 33
8 Bethel 17
9 Hamline 10

Augsburg College   
Head Coach: Mike Schwartz (9th season)
2003-04 Record: 8-13-4 overall, 5-8-3 MIAC (6th)
Key Returners: Steve Belde (D, Sr., Lake Elmo, Minn./Hill-Murray HS), three-year letterwinner on defense for Auggies; 1G-7A--8P in 24 games last season; career totals of 4G-17A--21P in 66 games.
Steve Collova (F, Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.), transferred to Augsburg from Minnesota-Duluth last season; 5G-4A--9P in 22 games last season; career totals of 5G-6A--11P in 40 games (including UMD).
Critter Nagurski (F, So., International Falls, Minn.), All-MIAC honrable mention in 2003-04; 5G-7A--12P, tied for 4th on team in scoring (tops among returners).
Brett Osness (F, Jr., Calgary, Alberta/Springbrook HS), mid-season addition to Augsburg roster in 2003-04; 5G-6A--11P in 16 games; dual U.S./Canadian citizen who competed in 2002-03 season at U.S. Military Academy (Army), 1G-4A--5P in 21 games there.
Cody Swanson (F, Jr., Vermillion, Minn./Hastings HS), 5G-2A--7P in 2003-04; career totals of 7G-6A--13P in 37 games.
Joe Haehn (F, Jr., Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn HS), 2G-4A--6P in 18 games in 2003-04, first season on varsity; also plays on Augsburg's baseball team.
Greg May (F, So., Burnsville, Minn.), 2G-4A--6P in 25 games in 2003-04, both goals on power play.
Season Preview: MINNEAPOLIS (10/30/04) -- In the words of head coach Mike Schwartz, the Augsburg College men's hockey team will be "younger, but older" in 2004-05.

It may sound like an oxymoron, but "younger, but older" is an apt description for the Auggies. Augsburg will sport a very young roster -- just three seniors and 27 underclassmen on the 40-man lineup -- but the lineup will be bolstered by the biggest influx of junior hockey recruits in Schwartz's nine years at Augsburg.

Adding 15 talented freshmen to the mix, along with a solid sophomore and junior class, could help the Auggies make a move back up the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference ladder this season. Last year, Augsburg could not recover from a disastrous 0-7-1 start and finished 8-13-4 overall, 5-8-3 in MIAC play, missing the MIAC postseason playoffs for just the third time in Schwartz's tenure.

And several of the newcomers, along with some key transfer athletes, are expected to make an immediate impact, Schwartz said.

"We only have three seniors on the roster, but virtually all the freshmen coming into the program are 20-year-olds who have played juniors," Schwartz said. "The freshman class is actually older than our sophomore class, age-wise, and it gives us more experience. We will really count on our underclassmen this season."

Bethel University   
Head Coach: Peter Aus (10th season)
2003-04 Record: 6-17-1 overall, 4-12-0 MIAC (8th)
Key Returners: Kris Birch, FW, Ham Lake, Minn.
Dan Ubl, FW, Blaine, Minn.
John Kramer, FW, Coon Rapids, Minn.
Ryan Adams, FW, Litchfield, Minn.
Dustin Thompson, G, Lino Lakes, Minn.
Season Preview: The Royals are excited about the 2004-05 season. After a season of “all mosts”, this year’s team is determined to play sixty minutes of solid hockey each and every game.

Bethel graduated two-time captains Chris Carroll and Chris Myrold. Carroll was also twice selected All-MIAC in his four years as a Royal. In addition, they must replace Ricky Saintey and Jean Moline on defense plus forward Adam Hyrkas.

The key to success will come from the commitment of a solid core group of returning letterman. This group is led by captain Dan Ubl (Sr., Blaine, Minn.) and assistants Mitch Severson (Jr., Alexandria, Minn.) and Ryan Gallagher (Jr., Lancaster, CA). Other key performers off last years squad include Kris Birch (Sr., Ham Lake, Minn.), Josh Storm (Sr., Lakeville, Minn.), Ryan Adams (Soph., Litchfield, Minn.), and Jon Kramer (Soph., Coon Rapids, Minn.).
On defense, the Royals return Neal Carlson (Soph., Roseville, Minn.), Gallagher, Brian Saintey (Jr., Rosemount, Minn.), and Nate Peasley (Soph., North St. Paul).

The key ingredient this season according to Coach Pete Aus is sophomore goalie Dustin Thompson. (Lino Lakes, Minn.) Thompson set a consecutive save record (48) against St. Thomas last season. Dustin’s consistent play will be key to the success of the Royals.

Finally, a talented group of newcomers will join these veterans and should help provide an entertaining and productive season.

Concordia College   
Head Coach: Steve Baumgartner (19th season)
2003-04 Record: 5-17-3 overall, 4-10-2 MIAC (7th)
Key Returners: Shawn Kleven, Sr., Crookston, Minn., 2003-04 MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention
Jon Rudnick, So., Moorhead, Minn., 2003-04 MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention
Matt Hansen, Sr., Fargo, N.D., Led the team in goals (11) and second on the team in scoring in 2003-04 (18 pts).
Brett Johnson, Jr., Thief River Falls, Minn., Top returning defensemen in 2003-04 
Mark Buchholz, So., Moorhead, Minn., DI transfer in 2003-04
Season Preview: The 2004-05 Concordia men’s hockey team will have to punch the clock and bring their hard hats to the rink every game. This year’s edition of the Cobbers will not have any superstar or game-breaking playmaker, but will have a boatload of players who have MIAC experience and the work ethic to keep Concordia in every game.

Steve Baumgartner begins his 19th season behind the bench for Concordia. He will be hoping to bring the Cobbers back into the playoffs after missing the MIAC postseason last year for the first time in six seasons. Baumgartner will have to rely on the team’s depth and a much-improving defensive corps to get back into the top five in the conference. 

The biggest question mark for Baumgartner’s Blue Collar Bunch will be between the pipes. The Cobbers have four goalies on the roster, and not one has any game experience for the Cobbers Three of the four are freshmen and the fourth is a transfer from UM-Crookston. The preseason favorite to win the starting job is Josh Hand (Fr., Temple, Pa.). Hand played for Thunder Bay in the SIJHL last year and his 6-2, 205 frame will be an imposing wall for opposing shooters. Mike Dowers, (Fr., Thief River Falls, Minn.), Drew Dvorak (Fr., Litchfield, Minn.) and Lee Baldwin (So., Horace, N.D) will all push Hand for playing time. Baldwin played in eight games last year for UM-Crookston, and Dvorak was the #1 golfer on the Cobber men’s golf team this fall.

On defense, Concordia will ham-and-egg it with a group of five experienced blueliners. Brett Johnson (Jr., Thief River Falls, Minn.) and Steve Rosenfeldt (Sr., Moorhead, Minn.) bring the most experience to the table. Johnson is a three-year starter while Rosenfeldt has been a regular since his freshman season. Mark Buchholz (So., Moorhead, Minn.) transferred back home after spending the first semester of last season at Division I University of Findlay. Aaron Bruggeman (Jr., Crookston, Minn.) and Chris Wothe (So., Park Rapids, Minn.) appeared in over 20 games each in 2003-04 and will form the backbone for the 2004-05 defensive group.

Besides goaltending, Concordia’s ability to put the puck in the net will also be key to the team’s success in 2004-05. Last year the Cobbers were ninth in the MIAC in goals scored. Their top scorer, Shawn Kleven (Sr., Crookston, Minn.), was not even in the top 25 in the MIAC in scoring. The Cobbers’ highest goal scorer, Matt Hansen (Sr., Fargo, N.D.) finished 15th in the league in goals scored. 

Both Kleven and Hansen will be the offensive leaders for the Cobbers in 2004-05. The pair was first and second in scoring for Concordia last season, and Kleven was named to the MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention Team. After Kleven and Hansen, Jon Rudnick (So., Moorhead, Minn.) was the next highest returning point-getter. Rudnick was also named to the MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention Team, and will be benefited from a year of experience. Another forward who could have a big year for Concordia is junior Brice Berggren (Dassell, Minn.). Berggren had four goals and three assists in 2003-04 and is the epitome of Baumgartner’s Blue Collar Boys. His ability to create chances from sheer hard work and persistence will pay off for him and his linemates.

If Concordia can equate work ethic and desire into success, then the Cobbers could be looking at returning to the holiday vacationland of the MIAC playoffs after having spent four hard months of working their fingers to the bone. 

Gustavus Adolphus College   
Head Coach: Brett Petersen (5th season)
2003-04 Record: 12-11-3 overall, 9-5-2 MIAC (3rd)
Key Returners: Joe Ulwelling, LF, SR, 6-0, 200 lbs. (12 goals, 11 assists, 23 points)
Keith Detlefsen, LD, JR, 5-11, 190 lbs. (8goals, 16 assists, 24 points)
Season Preview: The Gustavus Adolphus College men’s hockey team enters the 2004-05 campaign with hopes of making its third consecutive MIAC playoff appearance. Head coach Brett Petersen graduated eight seniors but returns 15 letterwinners from last year’s squad that finished third in the MIAC. Sophomore goaltender Brett Sawyer (Wyoming, Minn.) will replace all-America goaltender Dan Melde in between the pipes for Gustavus. Sawyer appeared in eight games last season allowing 10 goals for a 1.88 goals against average. Forward Joe Ulwelling (Warroad, Minn.) is back for his senior campaign. Ulwelling, a three-time MIAC all-conference selection, netted 12 goals last season to lead the Gusties in goals for the second consecutive year. Last season’s defense is nearly intact with the return of senior Nick Droogsma (Elk River, Minn.) and juniors Keith Detlefsen (Lakeville, Minn.), Eric Lindquist (Bloomington, Minn.) and Adam Meyer (Buffalo, Minn.). In the MIAC pre-season coaches poll, Gustavus was picked to finish third behind Saint Thomas and Saint John’s. The Gusties will open the season by hosting the College of Saint Scholastica on Friday, November 5.

Hamline University   
Head Coach: Chris Brown (1st season)
2003-04 Record: 3-22-0 overall, 1-16-0 MIAC (9th)
Key Returners: Shane Wagner, Jr., D, 6-0, 185, Stillwater, Minn. (Butte-AWHL) – All-MIAC Honorable Mention selection in 2003-04. 11 goals, eight assists, 19 points in 2003-04.
Ryan Manke, Sr., F, 5-11, 195, Lakeville, Minn. (St. Paul – MJHL) – Eight goals, 10 assists, 18 points in 2003-04.
Steve Malke, Sr., F, 5-11, 170, Brooklyn Center, Minn. (Minnesota – MJHL) – Four goals, 10 assists, 14 points in 200304.
Lubos Taragel, Sr., F, 6-0, 195, Bratislava, Slovakia (Dubuque – USHL) – Seven goals, seven assists, 14 points in 2003-04.
John Harstad, Sr., G, 5-11, 180, Alexandria, Minn. – Started 15 games. Posted a .885 save percentage, and 4.55 goals against average.
Season Preview: First-year head coach Chris Brown doesn’t want to win next year, next month, or even next week. Brown wants to teach the 2004-05 version of the Hamline men’s hockey team to win now.

People keep telling me that turning this hockey program into a contender will be a marathon, and I tell them I’ll run the marathon like a sprint,” Brown said.

With four of the Pipers’ top five scorers and a senior goaltender returning, Brown believes the Pipers can compete this season, but to do that Hamline must have a completely different mindset from the team that finished last season 3-22, 1-15 in the MIAC.

That attitude starts in the goal where Hamline returns senior goaltender John Harstad. The Alexandria, Minn. product started 15 games last season, going 1-14 with a 4.55 goals against average and .855 save percentage. Harstad is a tested MIAC netminder who has started 32 games in his previous three seasons.

Leading the attack on offense are senior forwards Ryan Manke (Lakeville, Minn.), Lubos Taragel (Bratislava, Slovakia), and Steve Malke (Brooklyn Park, Minn.). Manke was the second-leading scorer on the team a season ago with eight goals and 10 assists. Taragel added seven goals and seven assists, and Malke had four goals and 10 assists. Junior forwards Griffin Kilby (Duluth, Minn.) and Mike Forconi (Bovey, Minn.) also return to the team. All five played significant roles in the Pipers playoff push from two seasons ago.

Hamline also returns two experienced defensemen in juniors Shane Wagner (Stillwater, Minn.) and Ben Gustafson (Elk River, Minn.). Both are solid at both ends of the ice. Wagner was among the defenseman scoring leaders in the MIAC with eight goals and five assists. Gustafson tallied two goals and five assists as a sophomore.

Complete preview found at: http://www.hamline.edu/hamline_info/athletics/mens_hockey/0405_Season/Outlook.html

Saint John's University   
Head Coach: John Harrington (12th season at SJU, 180-106-22 overall)
2003-04 Record: 22-4-1 overall, 15-1-0 MIAC (1st)
Key Returners: Adam Holmgren, Sr., defenseman, Blaine, Minn. – second-team All-American in 2004, 27 points (4g/23a) and was tied for 16th nationally among defensemen in points.
Scott Bjorklund, Jr., forward, Moorhead, Minn. – first-team All-American in 2004, 44 points (16g/28a), was 11th and 14th nationally in assists and points per game, tied for third in the MIAC in assists, fourth in points and tied for fourth in goals.
Darryl Smoleroff, Jr., defenseman, Maple Grove, Minn. – first-team All-American in 2004, 32 points (12g/20a), tied for fourth nationally among defensemen in points, tied for seventh in assists and 13th in points in MIAC play.
Adam Hanna, Jr., goalie, Owatonna, Minn. – second-team All-American in 2004, seventh-nationally best 15-3-0 record and a school-record 1.61 goals against average, which was second-best in the country. Hanna’s 92.4 percent save percentage was ninth nationally and he had a scoreless streak of 291 minutes in February and March.
Ryan Langenbrunner, Jr., forward, Cloquet, Minn. – All-MIAC in 2004, 39 points (15g/24a) and was 19th in assists and 22nd nationally in points. Langenbrunner was tied for ninth in assists and 10th in points in MIAC games.
Season Preview: COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – The two-time defending MIAC regular season champion Saint John’s University hockey team is expected to return six of its top seven point scorers and four All-America players from last year’s team that went 22-4-1 overall and 15-1-0 in the MIAC.

Last year’s winning percentage of .833 and 16-game win streak were the best in school history, but the Johnnies fell short of returning to the NCAA playoffs, after losing to St. Thomas 4-3 in overtime in the MIAC Playoff Championship.

This year’s team is eager to begin its season with the hope of exceeding last year’s accomplishments.

The Johnnies are expected to return 23 players from last year’s squad, including 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies.

Complete preview found at: http://gojohnnies.com/hockey/05preview.html

Saint Mary's University   
Head Coach: Don Olson (28th season) 342-340-36
2003-04 Record: 13-11-2 overall, 8-7-1 MIAC (4th)
Key Returners: Chad Damerow (Sr., F, Albert Lea, Minn. / 10 goals, team-leading 19 assists, 29 points - All-MIAC First-Team)
Marcus Reszka (Jr., D, Winona, Minn. / 8 goals, 15 assists, 23 points - All-MIAC First-Team - Most goals (8)by an SMU defenseman since 1998-99 - 15assists and 23 points were the most since 1992-93 season.)
Mike Bry (Jr., F, Manvel, N.D. / 4 goals, 13 assists, 17 points)
Ryne Ess (Sr., G, Eden Prairie, Minn. / 2.57 GAA, .913 save percentage, 9-4-1 - Honorable-mention All-MIAC)
Season Preview: It has become a tradition for the Saint Mary's University men's hockey program at the start of the season for all first-year players to wear a piece of tape on their helmets with their names written on it. Once the preseason is finished, the players are allowed to remove the tape. This year, head coach Don Olson may want to consider leaving the tape in
place a while longer. Say, maybe through December.

"We definitely have a new look about us this year," said Olson, who graduated 11 seniors off last year's team, a team that went 13-11-2 overall and qualifed for its first MIAC post-season tournament berth since the 1986-87 season. "It's pretty unusual to have such a large graduating class, and we knew that it was going to be tough replacing that many players. Obviously, it's a work in progress, but I think we're going to be OK."

On the ice, Chad Damerow (Albert Lea, Minn.), Mike Bry (Manvel, N.D.) and Marcus Reszka (Winona, Minn.) return as SMU's top offensive threats. In fact, the trio are the only returners who scored more than 10 points for the
Cardinals a year ago.

Damerow, the team's captain, finished second on the team in scoring with 29 points, which included a team-leading 19 assists. Reszka and Bry, the team's assistant captains, chipped in 23 and 17 points, respectively, with Reszka's eight goals were the most by an SMU defenseman since Randy Gallatin scored eight in 1998-99, and his 15 assists and 23 points were the most since 1992-93 season, when Chris Valicevic posted 33 assists and 44 points.

About the only place the Cardinals weren't affected by graduation is between the pipes, where Ryne Ess (Eden Prairie, Minn.), an all-conference honorable-mention pick last year as a junior, leads a stable of capable goaltenders for Olson to choose from.

Complete SMU men's hockey preview: http://sports.smumn.edu/2004/newsletter/mhpreview.html

St. Olaf College   
Head Coach: Sean Goldsworthy (7th season)
2003-04 Record: 11-12-4 overall, 7-6-3 MIAC (5th)
Key Returners: Keith Townsend, Sr., F, All-MIAC honorable mention, eight goals, 15 assists, three game-winners in 03-04, All-MIAC in 02-03
Josh Biser, Jr, F, 12 goals, 12 assists
Kyle Hilmershausen, So., W, 10 goals, one assist in 03-04
Will Wetterlin, Jr., D, three goals, five assists
Joel Ihrie, Jr., F, six goals, seven assists in 19 games, named to All-MIAC tournament team
Season Preview:

The St. Olaf men's hockey team, fresh of their first MIAC tournament appearance in school history, brings back an experienced defense and proven forwards return for seventh year coach Sean Goldworthy in 2004-05 in hopes of getting back to the postseason.

Goldsworthy and the Oles reached the MIAC playoffs as the fifth seed and advanced to the semi-finals after a first round, 5-3 win over Saint Mary's university.

Keith Townsend (Sr., Sterling Heights, Mich., 8 goals, 15 assists), Kyle Hilmershausen (So., Wausau, Wis., 10 goals, one assist) and Josh Biser (Jr., Waunakee, Wis., 12 goals, 12 assists) will endure a good part of the scoring load. The trio combined for 30 goals and had four game-winners last winter.

Townsend has had quite a career for the black and gold. In his 77 career games, he has 28 goals and 57 assists. Joel Ihrie (Jr., Woodinville, Wash.) and Teddy Bickel (Jr., Chanhassen, Minn.) are back as well. Ihrie's two-goal game against Saint Mary's earned him All-Tournament honors.

Justin Green (FY, Shorewood, Minn./Fort Francis-SIJHL) and Jeff Budish (FY, Edina, Minn./Fargo-NAHL) could add scoring punch for the Oles, as could Mike MacMillan (FY, Buffalo, Minn./Billings-NAHL) and Brett Kistner (FY, Peoria, Ill./Bozeman-NAHL)

Seven defenders return for St. Olaf in 2004-05. Leading the corps are Edina natives Matt Mudra (So., ), Mitch Mudra (So.) and Will Wetterlin (So.). John Paulson (FY, Eden Prairie, Minn./St. Louis-USHL) will assist the Ole defenders too, which held opponents to 3.3 goals a game last season.

In goal, Dan Kehler (Jr., Woodbury, Minn.) and Jeff Wilde (So., Watertown, S.D.) will split time early. Kehler was instrumental in the Oles run to the playoffs last season.

The Oles open play Fri., Nov. 5 when they host no. 10 (USCHO) UW-Superior at 8 p.m. St. Olaf plays just one conference series before the New Year, when they have Bethel Univ. in a home-and-home Dec. 10 and 11.

University of St. Thomas   
Head Coach: Terry Skrypek (18th season)
2003-04 Record: 17-8-3 overall, 13-2-1 MIAC (2nd)
Key Returners: Anthony Blumer, F, SR All-MIAC ('03-04: 14g-21a, 3 GWG; Career: 32g-45a)
John Bottoms, F, JR All-MIAC ('03-04: 6g, 10a; Career: 11g-21a)
Adam Cozine, F, JR ('03-04: 3g-5a; Career: 7g-18a)
Dan Krmpotich, F, JR ('03-04: 14g-16a, 4 GWG; Career: 17g-27a)
Dustan Lick, F, SR, All-American, 2X All-MIAC ('03-04: 24g-17a; Career: 47g-52a)
Kevin Rollwagen, F, SO (OE03¹04: 10g-10a)
Zack Sikich, GK, SR, 2X All-MIAC ('03-04: 14-8, 2.76 GAA, .911 save%)
Brandon Wilcox, F, JR, All-MIAC ('03-04: 10g-27a; Career: 21g-33a)
Season Preview: Terry Skrypek will coach his 18th season at St. Thomas in 2004-2005 and in November will coach his 500th game on the Tommie bench. Skrypek will look to carry over the momentum gained last season, when UST started 0-4 then went
17-3-3 to make the NCAA playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.

Last March, UST edged St. John's in overtime to win the conference playoffs then lost in overtime to UW-River Falls in the NCAA playoffs to finish 17-8-3.

The Tommies return 14 of their top 16 players and added a recruiting class Led by four transfers and five players with Junior A league experience. It looks like UST and defending champ St. John's will again battle for the MIAC title and contend for spots in the NCAA playoffs.

The Tommies, ranked No. 11 in the U.S. College Hockey Online preseason poll, will be paced by three returning seniors -- skilled goalie Zack Sikich (2.76 GAA, .911 save percentage in 2003-2004) and two of Division III's best forwards in All-American Dustan Lick and All-MIAC Anthony Blumer. Lick and Blumer have combined to score 63 goals over the last two seasons and lead a dangerous power play. The Tommies also return forwards Adam Cozine, Brandon Wilcox, Dan Krmpotich and Kevin Rollwagen, who combined for 34 goals last season.

The Tommies return their top defensemen in juniors John Bottoms, Connor Phippen, Andrew Edwards, senior Skylar Kangas and sophomores Josh Tubbs and Ryan Van Bockel.

St. Thomas will play 10 of their first 14 games on home ice where they finished 9-1 last season. The Tommies start with three home games vs. ranked teams -- Nov. 5 vs. No. 1-ranked St. Norbert; Nov. 6 vs. No. 13 Lake Forest; and Nov. 12 vs. No. 6-rated UW-River Falls.

Last season, the Tommies recorded their 22st consecutive winning season and 20th top-two MIAC finish in the last 22 years. They reached the MIAC playoff championship game for the 17th time in the 19-year history of the format. In
their 13-2-1 MIAC finish, good for second place, the Tommies allowed only 36 goals in 16 games.

Skrypek surpassed 300 career victories in 2002-2003 and joined a select group to win 300 games in high school and college. Skrypek ranks in the top 10 among active Division III coaches in wins and winning percentage. He comes into 2003-04 with a 320-143-31 record (.679 win%). He has never had a losing hockey season in 42 seasons as a high school and college player and head coach.