|Concordia senior forward Dan Perry will be counted on to continue his scoring ways in 2006-07.|
More Experience In 2006-07!
The 2006-07 Season Preview
The 2006-07 Concordia men’s hockey team will be hoping that a year of experience will lead to a significant leap in conference victories and a more consistent performance on the ice from the beginning of the season to the end. In 2005-06, the Cobbers started with four straight wins but were then only able to win one more time in their next 21 games.
In order to make the turn from a team that struggled in conference play to one that will contend for a spot in the five-team MIAC playoffs, Concordia head coach Steve Baumgartner, who will be entering his 21st season behind the bench, will be hoping that his bumper crop of freshmen last season will turn into a solid corps of established players this year. The Cobbers had 18 first-year players on the roster last year and the best thing about that fact is they will all be sophomores this season. A group of 11 sophomores returns this year and will provide the backbone of a team looking for its first conference victory since the end of the 2004-05 campaign.
Despite the league-win drought, optimism can be seen throughout the Cobber camp. Concordia will have a slew of solid forwards and a trio of returning capable blueliners to go along with their leading goaltender from a year ago.
Senior co-captain Dan Perry (Fergus Falls, Minn.) will lead the scoring brigade for Concordia. He led the team in scoring in 2005-06 with 19 points and his 6-5, 220-lb frame makes him a sizable force around the net at all times. He will be joined by fellow captain Tyler Neu (Jr., Wadena, Minn./Wadena-Deer Creek HS) who had four goals and six assists last year but was second on the team in power play goals with three. Baumgartner will also look for the Moorhead duo of Ryan Clukey and Cory Johnson to up their totals from a year ago. Clukey had nine points, while Johnson finished with seven after playing in only 15 games because of his duty with the Concordia football team.
Senior defenseman Mark Buchholz (Moorhead, Minn.) will return for his fourth season as one of the teams’ top defensive specialists. Buchholz is a formidable two-way player who can also put points on the board. Last year he finished second on the team in scoring and led the team in assists. He had all of his points from his 14 assists in 2005-06. Along with Buchholz, Concordia will feature the Babich twins. Both players will be aided by a year of experience in the MIAC. Chris and Carl Babich (So., Eveleth, Minn./Eveleth-Gilbert HS) were named the team’s Co-Rookies of the Year in 2005-06 and will need to step up their play this season if the Cobbers are to contend for a playoff spot.
Goaltending will once again be a key issue for the Cobbers. Not since the days of two-time All-American Bryan Howard in 2000-01 has Concordia had a netminder that consistently played at a high level for an entire season. There have been flashes of brilliance between the pipes in the seasons since, but nothing that has helped the Cobbers get back into the upper echelon of MIAC teams.
Sophomore Jeremy Boniface (Goderich, Ontario/St. Annes HS) will be the top returning candidate for Concordia. He started 15 games last year and led the team with a 5.71 goals against average. Two other goalies will also be thrown into the mix. Josh Hand (Temple, Pa./Holy name HS) played in only five games last year as a freshman and had a 1-1 record. First-year goalie Mike Persson (Regina, Sask./Penticton HS) will be the one unknown and could push both returners for the top spot.
The Cobbers open play on Friday, Nov. 4 when they play at Northland College (Wis.) for a two-game series. Concordia will then begin their quest for their first conference victory in two seasons when they host Gustavus on Nov. 17-18.
2006-07 MIAC Coaches' Preseason Poll