Minnesota Hockey Magazine

DI Women’s Preview: St. Cloud State

St. Cloud State’s Audrey Hamner will anchor the Huskies’ blue line this season. (St. Cloud State University Athletics Photo / Tom Nelson)

Goals are the goal for the Huskies in 2014-15

It’s been a rough go of it for the SCSU women’s hockey team the past four years, accumulating a 13-94-7 record, with a stamp of 1-33-1 on the 2010-11 season, a program worst.

Changes have been made in hopes of cultivating a new reputation for the red and black, with the biggest transition being made behind the bench. Eric Rud rejoins the SCSU family, taking a new role as head women’s hockey coach after his time as assistant with the men’s team from 2005-2010.

“We want to give our young women a chance to start fresh,” Rud said. “There hasn’t been a ton of success around here and really wanted to let them showcase themselves early.”

The Huskies kicked off their season with an exhibition match against the Toronto Aeors, which resulted in a 3-0 victory. While the game was against a junior team, SCSU’s offense looked to have a much bigger spark than last year, including breaking out of the defensive zone with ease and more dynamic, small area passing in the offensive zone.

“We want to give our young women a chance to start fresh,” Rud said. “There hasn’t been a ton of success around here and really wanted to let them showcase themselves early.”

“The big question mark for us is to who’s going to step up and become an offensive threat.”

Coming into the 2014-15 campaign the Huskies will need to find new scorers. With last years graduating class notching 56 percent of the points, and Molli Mott and Julia Gilbert accounting for just under 40 percent of SCSU’s goals and assists last season, somebody will have to step up.

Abby Ness, a stand out high school player had a solid freshman year at SCSU, but has slowed since, regardless that she put up over 100 shots on net last season. Arguably the best scoring threat for the Huskies is an offensive minded defenseman in Audrey Hamner, who put up over 150 shots in the 2014 campaign, but netted only two goals.

The strength of the Huskies comes on the blue paint, with the goalies and defensemen. Julie Friend returns in goal for the Huskies holding a 2.75 GAA and a .926 save percentage, impressive considering she saw over 37 shots a game. Though the defense lost Michelle Burke, they picked up Providence transfer defenseman Lexi Slattery and freshman recruit Brittney Anderson, who both had solid outings against Toronto.

The puck drops on the Husky season Friday, Oct. 3, where they match up against Boston University at Minneapolis’s Ridder Arena and Penn State the following afternoon.

St. Cloud State Huskies

2013-14 Final Ranking: N/A (USCHO) / N/A (USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine)

2013-14 overall record: 4-27-5

2013-14 WCHA record: 3-21-4-2

2013-14 Conference Finish: Eighth

2013-14 Postseason Finish: Lost WCHA first-round series to Minnesota 2-0

2014-15 predicted finish: Eighth (2014-15 WCHA Head Coaches’ Preseason Poll)

Tough Skates to Fill: F Molli Mott, F Julia Gilbert, D Michelle Burke

Impact Returnees: D Audrey Hamner, F Abby Ness, G Julie Friend

Key Additions: D Lexi Slattery, D Brittney Anderson, F Molly Illikainen, F Mackenzie Johnson.

Why the Huskies will exceed expectations: It all comes down whether they can find some offensive production. This has been the issue over the past few years, but with new additions and a new mindset behind the bench, we could see some transitions in the Huskies’ offense. It seems elementary, but they have to score to win, averaging only 1.3 goals/game last season, there’s definitely room for improvement.

Why the Huskies will fall short of expectations:

Expectations are such that there is truly nowhere to go but up for this program but things are pointing in that direction.