St. Cloud State
by Tim Rosenthal/Staff Writer
Head Coach: Bob Motzko
2006-07 record: 22-11-7 (14-7-7 WCHA)
Key Returnees: Nate Dey F SR., Dan Kronick F SR., Matt Stephenson D SR., Aaron Brockelhurst F/D SR., John Swanson F JR., Andreas Nodl F SO., Ryan Lasch F SO., Garrett Raboin F SO., Jase Weslosky G SO.
Key Losses: Andrew Gordon (underclassman), Casey Borer, Justin Fletcher, Bobby Goepfert
SCSU coach Bob Motzko didn't even try to hide the sting that's still felt from last season's first-round NCAA loss.
"It was a bitter ending to the season," said Motzko, who runs a program that still has never won an NCAA game. "We had high expectations going into the season, had a great start, but ran out of gas in the end. But overall I was pleased with our performance."
After a 12-3-3 start, the Huskies went 10-8-4 after that, losing their last three games of the year (two games in the WCHA Final Five, and then to eventual regional champion Maine). Part of the success last year was credited to goaltender Bobby Goepfert, and forward Andrew Gordon. Goepfert graduated in May and Gordon left for the Washington Capitals.
"The team will be young," said Motzko about 2007-08. "We will have about 15 or 16 freshmen and sophomores on the roster."
About this year's recruiting class, Motzko said, "It is a large class. On paper it's good, but there are a lot of unknowns."
The class will be led by forward Aaron Marvin, who is one of three draft picks on the roster.
"(Goaltending) is our biggest question mark," Motzko said. "We are turning it over to two sophomores and a freshman. We will start with the unknown guy in net."
Sophomore Jase Weslosky, a fourth-round pick of the New York Islanders, should be the favorite to take over for Hobey finalist Bobby Goepfert. B.J. O'Brien (another sophomore) and freshman Dan Dunn will also be competing for the spot.
"I like all three guys," said Motzko. "Our goal is to get them out on the rink as much as we can before the season begins.
"Matt Stephenson is a prime candidate (for captain). He is an excellent young man off the ice and he has good hands with leadership control."
If 2006-07 was a good goal-scoring team, then the same can be said about 2007-08. Three of the top five scorers return. Andreas Nodl (18 g, 28 a, 46 p), the team's leading scorer, and one of the top freshman scorers from last year, decided to stay at least one more year rather than signing a pro contract. Sophomore Ryan Lasch (16, 23, 39) and senior Dan Kronick (14, 12, 26) are the second and third leading scorers that are returning.
"We have made great strides in two years," said Motzko, entering his third season as head coach. "This year we will continue to score goals. We have a good offense and we can make plays happen."
On the defensive side Motzko said, "We have defensive competitiveness that can lead to being a defensive team."
No matter what the side is, offense or defense, expect this young team to be on the rise as the season progresses. However, a similar result of last year might be unlikely.