As I write this, it is the seacond day of the 2019-20 hockey season. Today is October 15th and yesterday was our first official day of practice. This is one of my favorite days of the year as it is the first time I get to see a lot of the new guys in red and white.
This year we have 18 returning players and 12 new players trying out. This gives us a total of 30 players trying out and we need to get that number down to 26-28 players in the next week. Next week, I will be releasing the next blog that will break down all of the new players that make the team. I am excited to see what the new guys have to offer. In the class of 12 guys we have 9 guys with junior-hockey experience, two guys that came to SJU right out of high school and one player that is a transfer from ACHA Club hockey. It is a good mix of guys that I feel will really complement the returning group that we have.
For this blog I would like to highlight our strength going into the year and the biggest question mark.
Our strength going into the season starts with our goaltending. We have all three guys returning in senior Andrew Lindgren, junior Mac Berglove and sophomore Mike Magnuson. I feel that we have the best group of goalies in the MIAC and I will have a ton of confidence in whomever is in net. Andrew is a two-time All-MIAC goaltender and Mac has a career 92% save percentage. Both guys have a lot of college game experience and both will be ready to go this season.
Along with our goaltending is a defensive core that returns all but one guy who played in the MIAC Championship game last year. This group is led by All-MIAC recipient Jake Dittel. The other four returners are seniors Cole Souto and Adam Orn and juniors Troy Dobbs and Travis Brown. This is a solid returning group of defensemen to serve as our backbone this season.
The biggest question mark, but the most exciting for me, is who will provide the scoring that we lost with our graduating senior class. We have our top two returning scorers back in seniors Brady Heppner and Kyle Wagner, but who will provide the second, third and fourth lines of scoring for this team? We have a lot of guys that we feel are ready to breakout this season and I am looking forward to seeing who will take on a more offensive role on this team. We are also going to try and get more scoring from our defensive core that was discussed as our strength. There are a lot of guys to be excited about, but it will be up to them to take the reins and really make a step forward offensively.
The season kicked off yesterday with practice, but our first official game will be on Saturday, Nov. 2 in Eau Claire. This will be followed up the following weekend with our home opener and first MIAC game of the season on Friday, Nov. 8 against Bethel. Before we even get to those games we have three weeks of practice, including two exhibition games against local junior-hockey teams. We will play the Granite City Lumberjacks of the NA3HL on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and the St. Cloud Blizzard of the NAHL on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Thank you for all your support and we hope to see you at a game this season.
On Sunday, April 7th, we will gather one more time at the SJU Hockey Senior Banquet to honor the eight seniors that will graduate this May and to look back at the 2018-19 season one last time.
This season, SJU finished 12-10-5 overall and 9-4-3 in the MIAC. This was good enough to finish second in the MIAC regular-season standings for the second year in a row. Really, the season was a tale of two halves once again. We had a first half (before Christmas break) record of 5-5-3 overall and 3-2-1 in the MIAC compared to a second-half record of 7-5-2 overall and 6-2-2 in the MIAC. This may not seem drastic, but we were playing better the second half and we played some of the top teams in the MIAC.
As a team, we had a 2.3 goals against average (GAA) for second-best in the league and 2.85 average goals per game (GPG) which was fourth in the league. Our GAA stayed about the same from last year, but our GPG fell 10 goals. This is something that we need to work on next year in that we need to find a way to score more goals.
Our special teams net finished fourth in the league with a power-play percentage of 18.4% and a penalty-kill percentage of 85.3%. Together we gave up 15 shorthanded goals and scored 15 power-play goals. These numbers were down compared to last season, where we finished top of the MIAC in all three categories with a power-play percentage of 25.5%, penalty-kill percentage of 86% and a combined special teams of +8. We need to improve our special teams next season to continue to chase our goals of the NCAA Tournament.
We had three players achieve All-MIAC in juniors Kyle Wagner, Brady Heppner and Andrew Lindgren. We also had senior Robb Stautz receive All-MIAC honorable mention. We had a lot of great performers this year, but these four guys rose to the top.
One of the strongest aspects of Johnnie hockey year in and year out, is our depth. I feel that we have the deepest team in the MIAC in that every night we have 4 lines that can contribute and 6 defensemen that can play any situation. This also doesn’t stop at goaltending in that I felt we had the two best goalies in the league with Andrew Lindgren and Mac Berglove. Our depth allows us to be a good 3rd period team with a +10 goal differential. This also shows in our overall scoring with 11 guys on the team with 10 or more points. Only one other team had that kind of depth. Our depth is are biggest strength and in order to keep that strength we need to find players to come to SJU that can fill the shoes of the eight seniors moving on.
It is going to be a big spring and summer in the recruiting world for SJU Hockey. We need to find the next crop of Johnnie Hockey student-athletes that are going to come in ready to contribute right away. The eight seniors that are graduating contributed 37 of our 77 goals this season and five of our top 10 scorers. We will need guys to step up next year along with brining in a great freshman class to get SJU to the top of the MIAC.
Thank you for your support of SJU Hockey.
Head Hockey Coach
Saint John’s University
On Thursday, April 11th, SJU Athletics will be rolling out the first-ever “Go Johnnies Challenge” fundraising event. This is an online, social-media based fundraising event that will help raise money for the athletic department. All money designated for SJU Hockey will go directly to our sport. The money raised for SJU Hockey will be used to help fund our trip to Boston in the 2019-20 season and to increase our equipment budget to allow me to provide more sticks to our student-athletes.
The goal given to me for SJU Hockey is 50 donors, though my personal goal is to reach 100 donors. There are three ways that you can help us reach these goals. The first is to simply donate to this challenge, second is to become an advocate for SJU hockey and this event, and third is to create a matching gift to encourage others to donate.
To donate to SJU Hockey through the “Go Johnnies Challenge” you can simply click on the link below and fill out the information. This is the easiest way to support this event and SJU Hockey. https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/6762/donations/new
Becoming an advocate for SJU Hockey helps because you can push this event out through your social media accounts and challenges people or alumni that you know and may be willing to donate. By becoming an advocate, you can also create a personal plea video that others can see and that may encourage someone else to donate.
Becoming an advocate:
1. Click on this link https://www.givecampus.com/schools/SaintJohnsUniversity/2019-go-johnnies-challenge
2. Click on “Advocates” tab in the middle of the page
3. Click on Sign up or Log in
4. Enter the information and submit
5. Keep this information so you can log in on the day of the event to push out on your social media
Creating a matching gift for Johnnie Hockey could help encourage young alumni and those that do not ordinarily donate to do so because they know their money is also including the matching gift. I have a goal to find matching gifts of $100 per donor to SJU Hockey. I have personally created a match of $5 per donor up to 100 donors for a total of $500. If you are interested in creating a matching gift you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing the steps below.
Creating a matching gift:
1. Click on this link https://www.givecampus.com/campaigns/6762/donations/new/?donation_type=match
2. Enter the amount that you are willing to donate up to
3. Chose “other” below the $1 per $1 donated
4. Enter the amount that you would like to donate per donor
5. Click on “match sport” then choose “hockey” in the drop-down menu
6. Enter the required fields in the information section
7. Go to checkout
I believe that with matching gifts and the passion of family, friends and alumni of SJU Hockey that we can raise well over $20,000 for the hockey program on April 11th.
Thank you for your support of SJU Hockey.
Head Hockey Coach
Saint John’s University
By now you may have already heard, but the Johnnies lost the MIAC Championship 2-1 March 2nd in a four-overtime marathon. It was a great game and a great atmosphere to play in, but it was a test for the boys both physically and mentally. This was the second time in 4 years that our season ended in a marathon at Augsburg’s ice arena.
It was a defensive battle for most of the game with great goaltending as I mentioned in my last blog. Augsburg scored a power-play goal in the second period to take the 1-0 lead that held up until the final minutes of the game. We pulled our goalie with about 1:40 left and were able to score to tie the game at 1-1. That score held up for another three periods. I should mention that those periods were also full 20-minute periods, so the boys ended up playing over two full games that night. In the end, we gave up a breakaway late in the third overtime before taking a penalty chasing the player down. Augsburg capitalized on the power play at the start of the fourth overtime to win the game 2-1. It was an absolute heart breaker and was one of the toughest ways to end a season. I am sure it will take the team a long time to get over this loss, but we will get over it and will move on to chase a championship in 2019-20.
The game had a lot of interesting story lines that will be easier to list than to write in a paragraph.
* The game was the second-longest in NCAA Division III Hockey history at 4 hours and 48 minutes. The game started at 7pm and ended just before midnight. The game also lasted 121 actual playing minutes, or just over 2 full games.
* Andrew Lindgren broke the SJU Hockey saves record in one game with 86 saves on 88 shots.
* There wasn’t a single 5-on-5 goal scored in the game. Augsburg scored two power-play goals and SJU scored with the goalie pulled, 6-on-5.
* SJU got out-shot 32-9 in the first two periods before holding Augsburg to 5 shots in the third period. The momentum of the game really turned in our favor from the third period on with numerous chances to win the game. This included 18 shots for SJU in the 3rd overtime.
* The game ended with SJU having 58 shots and Augsburg having 88 shots.
* The players started cramping up in the 3rd overtime so the players that were not dressed for the game ended up running down to the local gas station and buying them out of all their Gatorade and Snickers bars. It is not every day that someone enters a gas station and spends about $100 on Gatorade and Snickers.
* A photographer from D3photography.com left Collegeville after the first overtime and the NCAA basketball game at SJU and managed to make it to Augsburg for the 3rd and 4th overtime. There are more stories of people in the Twin Cities hearing the game was going on and leaving to try and catch the overtime part of the game and getting to see an entire game.
This was an experience that the guys will never forget, but it will hurt for a while because we were not able to finish with the win. The boys played hard and deserved better. I will write another blog recapping the season when I am ready to move on from this season.
Thanks for following Johnnie Hockey and we all appreciate your support!
This is a little late this week, but it has been a busy week with MIAC meetings, high school hockey playoffs and preparation for the MIAC Championship game. I wanted to give you a quick recap on the game this past Saturday against St. Thomas and a look forward to our game this Saturday at Augsburg.
This past Saturday we played St. Thomas in the MIAC semifinal at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. It was a great game and we came away with the 4-1 victory in front of a great crowd. This was the best 60-minute game that we have played all year and I was happy with the team’s buy-in and commitment to playing disciplined playoff hockey. We got a great performance in net again by Andrew Lindgren, who made 39 saves on 40 shots on net. We also got a great performance by senior defenseman Sean Lang, who scored two goals with the game-winner, and senior forward Evan Okeley added two goals. It was a very good playoff victory and will really help us moving into the hostile environment this weekend at Augsburg.
This Saturday we face Augsburg in the MIAC Championship at their rink in Minneapolis. We played them in the same situation back in 2016 and lost a thriller, 5-4 in three overtimes. This year will be another great atmosphere and game. We are expecting the game to be sold out and we have already sold out of our SJU issued tickets. We were given 200 tickets for the game and they sold out in two days. If you are interested in attending the game, we have been told that there will be a limited amount of tickets still available day of the game and ticket sales will start at 4pm in foyer of ice arena with doors opening at 5pm and a game time of 7pm. This is going to be a fun atmosphere for both the fans and the players.
With all that said, it is going to be a big challenge for our guys. Augsburg is having a great year with a 20-3-3 record and a MIAC regular-season championship. They have a very deep roster with several Division I transfers. Earlier this season, we played them to a 2-2 tie at home then a 5-1 loss on the road. We know what we need to do to get this win and we have worked hard this week to implement those things into our game. I look forward to the challenge and I look forward to seeing all the Johnnie Red in the building this Saturday.
Thanks for all your support and Go Johnnies!
It was a good weekend for Johnnie Hockey! We went into the weekend in 4th place and left the weekend in 2nd. This secured us a home game this Saturday against St. Thomas, instead of hosting the play-in game this Thursday and then going on the road against Augsburg. For all this to happen, we needed some things to fall in our favor. First, we needed to sweep Gustavus and get the six points. Then we needed two loses by Concordia against Augsburg and one loss by St. Thomas to Hamline. We got all three of these things to fall in our favor on Saturday to finish second in the MIAC.
Looking back at our series against Gustavus, we got the two wins, but still have a lot to improve to have success in the playoffs. SJU won the game on Thursday night, 2-0. In this game, junior goalie Andrew Lindgren got the shutout by saving all 44 shots he faced. He was by far the player of the game and got us the win on that night. We turned around and won Saturday night 7-5 in a game that was a complete contrast to Thursday night. We got three goals from the Kirkendall/Stautz/Okeley line. We ended up pulling Lindgren and got a good performance from sophomore goalie Mac Berglove, who stepped in and let in one goal on 20 shots. It really was the tale of two different games, but the biggest positive is that we found a way to win two games in two different ways.
Looking forward to the playoff game this Saturday, we face St. Thomas for the fourth time this year ( 1-1-1 record). We lost the season opener 3-2 in the MIAC showcase and then tied 2-2 and won 4-1 in the MIAC regular-season games. This is truly the rubber match and should be a great day of hockey. The game will be played at 2pm with the potential of SJU Basketball playing in the MIAC Championship on the same day at 7pm.
I hope to see some of you in the rink this Saturday as it should be a great atmosphere for a Johnnie/Tommie MIAC Semifinal matchup.
I’m not going to call it a sweep because it wasn’t, but getting five out of a possible six points was a good result against our rival St. Thomas last weekend. On Thursday night, the game was tied 2-2 after regulation and five-on-five overtime before we got a big shootout goal from senior Sean Lang to get the extra point in the standings. On Friday night at St. Thomas, we came away with a 4-1 win. We got a big power-play goal from junior Cole Souto to put us up 1-0 and then another from sophomore Travis Brown to put us up 2-0. Finally, we scored a big goal halfway through the third period to give us a 3-0 lead before they finally got one to make it a two-goal lead with about 10 minutes left. We hung on to the lead and managed to score an empty-net goal late to get the 4-1 win. It is always great to win at St. Thomas, because there are always a lot of SJU alumni in the building and, let’s be honest, it is always great to beat those Tommies!
We got back to work this Monday to get ready for our series against Gustavus this Thursday and Saturday. Gustavus always plays us tough and especially down in their building. Gustavus is currently 5-5-1 at home, compared to 2-10-0 on the road. This weekend is going to be another big challenge for us and we need to be ready to play. It is also important for us to continue to build to the way we need to play to be successful in playoffs. This year we have been a little inconsistent, and we need to bring the effort we had this past weekend and build on it, not revert to our old ways.
This Thursday is our senior night and those festivities will start prior to the game around 6:45pm. We will honor our eight seniors and their parents. This is always a fun evening and these guys really deserve a lot of credit for their commitment to this hockey program.
This senior class has made an impact on this program on and off the ice. They have played 571 career games and have contributed 272 career points. With that said, they have all carried a grade point average (GPA) well over 3.0 and have a cumulative GPA of 3.6!
Here is a look this great group of eight seniors:
It has been an interesting week to say the least. We didn’t have any games this past weekend, so the guys are itching to play some hockey. We have been able to implement some things the past 10 days that we feel will help us this week against Augsburg. We play Augsburg at home on Thursday at 7pm, and then in Minneapolis on Friday night at 7:05pm.
This week has been interesting as SJU canceled school Tuesday and Wednesday due to cold weather and the state of MN pretty much shut down. The National Hockey Center shut their doors since they are a state-run facility, so we had to pack our gear up and move to the Municipal Athletic Complex the past couple days to be able to practice. It is not ideal, but at least that facility is closer to Saint John’s. With that said, just another reason it would be great to have a rink in St. Joseph or on the SJU campus. I had to throw that in there.
This weekend is going to be a great challenge as Augsburg has had a great start to their season and is currently ranked #6 in the country with a 16-3-2 record. They have been a force in the MIAC the past four years and have really done a good job. They have been fortunate to get several Division I transfers that have really elevated their team. They have the leading goal scorer in the MIAC in Alex Rodriguez with 17 goals in 19 games. He is also third in the country for goals per game. Alex was a Division I transfer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York.
The key this weekend is winning the net front battle and playing smart defensive hockey. We need to play playoff style hockey and sacrifice everything to get these wins. Everything is still in front of us and I am excited to see how we raise our game the next three weeks leading into the playoffs.
I hope to see you at a game soon and if you are in Minnesota, enjoy this beautiful weather.
We traveled to Moorhead for a two-game series against Concordia last weekend and came away with a series split. We lost on Friday night, 2-1, and won on Saturday afternoon, 4-2. Both games were very close and SJU alum Chris Howe ’99 has done a great job putting his team together up at Concordia. Their top line lived up to the expectation and ended up scoring three of their four goals on the weekend. I will say that I thought we did a pretty good job shutting them down 5-on-5 with the line only scoring one even-strength goal on the weekend.
We had a big game on Saturday from seniors Matt Colford (2 goals) and Evan Okeley (1 goal and 2 assists). We also got two big games by junior goaltender Andrew Lindgren, who only gave up four goals on the weekend with 50 saves. We are going to need our upperclassmen to continue to step up moving forward for this team to have the success we want.
Here are a few of my takes on the weekend:
1. We need to play a more physical and gritty style of hockey to win more games moving forward. I felt that we didn’t finish enough checks or win enough battles in either game to come away happy in that aspect.
2. We need to find a way to score more goals. We are not going to win a lot of weekends when we only scoring five goals. We are currently one goal-per-game average less than we were last season. If we are going to score more goals we need to get to the front of the net with more passion and we need to be willing to get to the tough areas.
3. Our special teams need to be better. We had many opportunities for our power play to step up and make an impact in the games and we failed to produce in key situations. In fact, I feel that we didn’t even produce the opportunities in those situations to build the team’s confidence in the game.
4. One thing that I really liked on the weekend was that we only gave up four goals. Defensively we are playing well and we are definitely getting good goaltending. This is something that we can take pride in and build on moving forward.
As I am writing this blog we are getting ready for a team video session to cover all these aspects. We have the weekend off, so we have a little extra time to get some things implemented before we hit the huge six game stretch starting next weekend with a two-game series against nationally ranked Augsburg.
We have the guys to accomplish some special goals, but we must find another level of play to accomplish those goals.
Thanks for all your support and GO JOHNNIES!
We traveled out to Wisconsin this past weekend and unfortunately lost both games against #1 Steven’s Point 4-1 and #3 Eau Claire 4-2. We played well in both games and gave up an empty net goal in both games which made the scores look a bit inflated. The guys played hard and we had our chances in both games to take the win. I believe that if we earn the chance to play either of these teams again in the NCAA tournament that we will be better prepared.
On Friday Night we lost 4-2 to Eau Claire, but we were tied with about nine minutes left in the game. The official decided to not kick out a wing from the draw which put us in a vulnerable situation and they took advantage to take the lead 3-2. We had some great chances to come back in this game, but unfortunately fell short.
On Saturday night we traveled to Steven’s Point to take on the #1 ranked team in the country, Steven’s Point, and played them to a real tough game. I thought we played great defensively in this game only giving up 20 shots on net. This was the fewest shots on net that they have had all season, which is something to hang our hats on. We got the loss, but we learned a lot of what it would take to win in the future against this very competitive team.
These were our final two non-conference games of the season and we are now into the home stretch of MIAC games. We travel to Concordia-Moorhead this weekend for two games. We play at 7pm on Friday, January 18th and 2pm on Saturday, January 19th. This is going to be a huge series for us seeing that Concordia is having a great season and is currently in second place in the MIAC standings with a record of 6-1-1. We have a chance to leap frog them in the standings if we are able to get a couple wins, but on the opposite side of that, they can really separate themselves if we are not able to accomplish our goals for the weekend.
Concordia has the top scoring line in the league this year with Tyler Bossert (31), Mario Bianchi (23), and Aaron Herdt (21) all with over 20 points on the season. One goal this weekend is to shut down these three players as they account for 45% of their entire teams point totals. If we can shut them down, I feel that we have a great chance of winning the weekend.
We are really looking forward to this weekend and all the BIG MIAC games down the stretch. We hope to see you at a game soon and we are ready to chase down a championship. I hope you will take some time to watch the web stream of the game or listen to it live: Here is the link to the media sources: https://gojohnnies.com/schedule.aspx?path=mhockey