by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Scott Sandelin
2006-2007 Record: 13-21-5 (8-16-4 WCHA)
Key Returnees: Mike Curry F SR., Matt McKnight F SR., Travis Gawryletz D SR., Andrew Carroll F JR., Michael Gergen F JR., Josh Meyers D JR., MacGregor Sharp F JR., Alex Stalock G SO.
Key Losses: Mason Raymond (early departure), Matt Niskanen (early departure), Josh Johnson, Bryan McGregor, Ryan Geris, Jeff McFarland
The word frustration can be spelled out in many ways, but in 2006-07 it might as well of been spelled 'U-M-D.' The Bulldogs lost a total of nine games by one goal including the final two games of the year against St. Cloud State, both of which went into overtime.
"It was a tale of two halves," said head coach Scott Sandelin. "We had a good second half but struggled in the first half mainly because of injuries."
In 2007-08 the Bulldogs will lose their two leading scorers in Mason Raymond and Matt Niskanen, both of whom were sophomores. Their third leading scorer, Matt McGregor, graduated.
They will be led by senior captain Matt McKnight and assistant captain Andrew Carroll.
"They learned a lot of experience from the leaders in front of them," said Sandelin. "They were unanimously picked by the players and they are both really excited."
Defenseman Travis Gawryletz will serve as the other assistant captain.
This year's team will be young with nine recruits coming into Duluth.
"We filled our needs," said Sandelin, though he did lose a verbal commit, Mike Dorr, to Minnesota.
When asked about the competition in the league, Sandelin said, "There is a lot more parity this year. [Last season] was even when talent was gained and lost. With such teams as Michigan Tech, North Dakota, Mankato (Minnesota State) who had great second halves, and St. Cloud State who had a great first half. The conference is so even and everyone pushes each other."
In 2007-08 Duluth will look to get out of the cellar in the WCHA.
"The last few years we finished in ninth place," noted Sandelin. "Our goal this year is to be in the top five, stay consistent, get healthy, and get a team effort in terms of goal scoring, and eventually move towards the top of the league."
The WCHA right now has too much competition towards the top of the league, but expect Duluth to disrupt the playoff picture towards the end of the year when they play suck top teams as Minnesota and North Dakota.
The development of Alex Stalock in net will obviously be a determining factor. Stalock came in with a lot of credentials from the USHL, but failed to wrest away the No. 1 goaltending job by himself. Now, it's all his.