|Senior forward Alec Holen will be counted on to show leadership for all the new faces in 2008-09.|
The 2008-09 Season Preview
Fans attending the first few games of the Concordia men’s hockey team will need a program to decipher all the new names, faces and numbers associated with this year’s team. The Cobbers have a new head coach and 14 fresh faces on the roster.
The biggest change for the 2007-08 Concordia team starts at the top where first-year head coach Chris Howe takes over Steve Baumgartner who stepped down after 22 years on the job. Howe comes to the Cobbers after serving as the top assistant for perennial league power St. John’s for the past five seasons.
Howe will inherit a team that has a lot of experience and knows what it takes to compete in the MIAC. The Cobbers return their top three scorers from last season and both players that earned all-conference awards at the end of the year. CC also returns their captain and two of their three alternate captains from a year ago. All that experience and leadership will help the transition of the outstanding group of newcomers that Howe has assembled for 2008-09.
The senior trio of Alec Holen (Thief River Falls, Minn.), Ryan Clukey (Moorhead, Minn.) and Cory Johnson (Moorhead, Minn.) all have three years of varsity experience under their belts and the three represent the team’s top scorers from last season. Holen and Clukey tied for the team in points with 16 while Johnson led the team in goals with seven. Not only will their experience on the ice pay off for all of this year’s freshmen but their presence in the lockerroom will help the Cobbers as they open up play against four straight NCHA opponents. Holen and Johnson are also the team captains for 2007-08.
Junior defenseman Casey Olson (Rock Springs, Wyo.) will be the leader of the blue line crew for Howe. Olson was named to the MIAC All-Conference Honorable Mention Team in 2007-08. He played in all 16 conference games last year and led all CC defensemen in shots.
The biggest question mark for Concordia the past several seasons has been in goal where the Cobbers have received a light switch of performances. The CC goalies could be “on” for part of a game but then just as quickly get turned “off” and let up several soft goals in the process. Howe will turn the duties over to a pair of talented rookies. Elliot Okland (Fr., Fargo, N.D.) and Reidar Jensen (Fr., Grand Rapids, Minn.) bring successful backgrounds to the team. Okland played in the NAHL with the FM Jets and Jensen was an All-State Honorable mention goalie for Grand Rapids in 2006-07 when the team finished second in the state tournament. Both players will be counted on to help with the transition period that will inevitably happen at the beginning of the year when CC is getting used to playing together as a team.
Howe has combed the junior hockey leagues to bring in one of the most talented recruiting class in recent history. The Cobbers will have 14 new players and nine of those have played in junior hockey. Defensemen Erick Galt (Fr., Fargo, N.D.) and Mark Johnson (Fr., Bloomington, Minn.) and forwards Marc Harrie (Fr., Fargo, N.D.) and Jared Collen (Fr., Penticton, B.C.) highlight the new crew. Galt, Johnson and Harrie all had solid careers with the FM Jets. Collen comes to the team from British Columbia where he played for the Powell River Kings and was named the recipient of the Coaches’ Award in 2007-08.
Galt, Johnson, Harrie and Collen will be joined by several other players that give the Cobbers a step up in prior accomplishments and success and will help Howe navigate through his first year as a college head coach. The 2008-09 Cobbers might be an unknown quantity when they hit the ice for their first game on Halloween on Oct. 31 against UW-Stevens Point but by the time they face off against Hamline on Nov. 14 in the conference opener they could give all Concordia hockey fans a real treat.