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St. Cloud State Women's Hockey Season Preview

09/27/2018 - 6:00 PM

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St. Cloud State Women's Hockey Season Preview

The Women’s hockey team comes into the 2018-2019 season after finishing 8-20-5 overall with a 6-14-4 conference record last season. Eric Rud’s Club graduated four players last season, Forward Alyssa Erickson, Defensemen Brittney Anderson and Emma Turbyville and Goaltender Taylor Crosby.

The three senior skaters were the three captains for the Huskies last season and were all in the top 8 in scoring. Last season’s team broke a 37 game losing streak against the Minnesota Golden Gopher at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, took the number one team in the country to the wire and played in Hockey Day Minnesota. All of this occurred with the Huskies being .500 after Christmas break, which leads to positive traction coming into this season.

The Women’s team is bringing back a load of talent, from their tantalizing tandem in net to their trio of top scorers from last year. These ladies are looking for only their second winning season in program history, the only other time it has happened was in ’07-08 where they went 18-15-5. This won’t come easy as four teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference are ranked in the USCHO Division 1 Top 10.

The talent that is still in St. Cloud is up and down the lineup. Tops on the team in goals, assist and points are all still in town. Senior Julia Tylke led the team in goals the past two seasons and was second her freshman year. Tylke has been featured on Sportscenter Top 10 for her scoring prowess and it should be on full display in her last season. Sophomore Laura Kluge led the team in assists (17) and points (24) last year. Kluge’s play will go a long way for this team as she is a focal point for the offense both with the man advantage and at equal strength.

These two should pace the Huskies this season, who need to score more than they did last season’s 52 goals. My breakout forward candidate for this season is sophomore Megan Roe who should see time on the third line this season. Roe only saw the ice in 10 games last year and was unable to put up any points but in high school she scored at just under a point-per-game pace her final two years.

The back end is where the Huskies were hurt the most by graduation where they lost their top two defensemen. This season they will be led by junior assistant captain Abby Thiessen. Thiessen transferred from the University Of North Dakota after their women’s hockey team was cut. She had 10 points from the back end last season playing on the top defensive pairing with Britany Anderson.

My breakout defenseman candidate for this season is sophomore Taylor Wemple. Wemple is a force at 6’0 ft. tall and right handed from the point but she was undisciplined last season earning a penalty about every three games, which was the worst percentage on the team. She should lock down a solid role on the second and third pairings as long as she cleans up the penalties.

The Huskies are stacked in net with two clear starting college goalies. Junior Janine Alder and Sophomore Emma Polusny were unbelievable last year, leading to a handful of Huskies team records going down in flames. They claimed the number one save percentage for a season in team history at .929; while the second was all the way back at .919. Alder was at 9.35 and number one in team history with 33 GA and 473 saves. She also set the team record for saves in a game stone walling 59 shots against Wisconsin. Polusny was right behind at number two in save percentage with .934, 43 GA and 605 Saves.

The tandem is also number one in team history for goals against average in a season at .2.27; while the second is at 2.55. This time Polusny is number one on the record board at 2.20 GAA, second is at 2.32 GAA and Alder was right there with a 2.42 GAA. Polusny got significant run in the second half of last season but I expect them to split time in net for most of the season if they are both still playing at such a high level like last season.

The fresh talent on the team should find the ice from day one, especially on the back end. Freshman Olivia Hanson is expected be the left handed shot that fills Anderson’s old spot on the top pairing. Hanson is from Minot, North Dakota but she played in Canada for the Notre Dame Hounds the past four years. Hanson had four goals and 18 assists for 22 points in 25 games last season. She added three assists to that total during eight playoff games. Hanson did have 30 penalty minutes last season, which could work against her this year. Hanson will wear the 44 jersey this season.

Freshman Taytum Geier is the second defenseman brought in this year. She is from Verona, Wisconsin. She played for the Madison Capitals the past three years. She is more of a defensive defenseman who isn’t afraid to throw her body around to block shots. Geier shouldn’t wear down this year as she is used to a brutal schedule that includes 67 games a year on average. Geier will wear the 16 jersey this year.

In net, freshman Karlie Ries comes in from New Ulm High School. She brings in the pedigree being the daughter of former Husky Bill Ries, who played and coached here in the 1980’s. Ries probably won’t see the ice this season barring injury but the future in net looks bright. Ries will wear the 30 jersey this year.

On the offensive side the Huskies brought in freshman Jenniina Nylund, Allie Cornelius and Sophomore McKenna Wesloh, who will redshirt this season as a transfer from Ohio State. Nylund appears to be the one who will have the biggest impact on the Huskies this season having found a possible spot in the top 6. Nylund can flat out put the puck in the back of the net. Last season for Team Kuortane she scored 23 goals in 30 games, adding in 16 assists in there. In international competition playing for the Finland U18 team the year before she scored eight goals in 16 games. Nylund will wear the 81 jersey this year.

Cornelius is the home town girl having played high school hockey for the St. Cloud Icebreakers. She had an amazing four years with the Icebreakers amassing a program record for points (162) and goals (102) while being a mere second in assists (60). She will most likely not see much ice time this season with her skill set leaning toward offense the top 6 being pretty crowded but look for her to use that elite offensive skill in the near future for Rud’s squad. Cornelius will wear the 6 jersey this year.

The top games you won’t want to miss at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center are as follows:

Oct. 12 vs. Minnesota Gophers

Oct 26 and 27th vs. UMD Bulldogs

Nov. 17 vs. Minnesota Gophers

Dec. 7 and 8 vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Feb. 1 and 2 vs Ohio State Buckeyes

The Huskies begin regular season play this weekend Sept. 28 and 29 when they fly out to Storrs, Connecticut to take on the University of Connecticut. The games will be at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Neither of the games will be broadcast.

NOTES:

• This will be a good gage on where the Huskies are at with Connecticut earning two votes for the USCHO rankings.

• These teams tied 0-0 with Connecticut wining in OT on Friday and St. Cloud won 3-2 in comeback fashion on Saturday to start last season.

Local connection: Connecticut has one Minnesota native on their team in sophomore Natalie Snodgrass, who is from Eagan.

• Connecticut lost their exhibition game 4-2, while SCSU won theirs 9-0.

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