2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Maura Crowell (1st Season)
2015-16 Captains: Ashleigh Brykaliuk (C), Sidney Morin (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 20-12-5 (14-10-4-2 WCHA/4th place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; eliminated by Bemidji State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs

The Bulldogs started off a bit slow in 2014-15, going 1-4-2 in their first six match-ups, which included two losses to Wisconsin, one each to Minnesota and North Dakota, and a tie against Connecticut. They did work a tie against the Gophers, though, and a win over North Dakota on Oct. 18 sparked a nine-game win streak for the team. The Bulldogs earned sweeps over Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, as well as non-conference opponents Lindenwood and Cornell, before falling to Bemidji State on Nov. 28. Minnesota Duluth salvaged the split though, and took five of six points from Ohio State on the road to close out the 2014 portion of the season.

Another split with the Beavers started off 2015, and the Bulldogs then earned season sweeps over St. Cloud State and Minnesota State in the next couple of weeks after that. In their next three series, however, they managed just a point each against North Dakota and Wisconsin and were swept by the Gophers on the road. UMD headed into the postseason coming off of a sweep of the Buckeyes, and they drew Bemidji State in the first round. After a hard-fought three-game quarterfinal series, it was the Beavers who tallied the winner in overtime in the decisive game three, ending the Bulldogs’ season.

It would be remiss if we didn’t touch on some of the biggest off-ice news to happen across women’s hockey last year, mostly because of how much it has impacted Minnesota Duluth’s program, both present and future. It was announced midseason that head coach Shannon Miller, who steered the Bulldogs to five national titles during her tenure, would not have her contract renewed at the end of the year, and neither would her staff. There was much to be made about UMD administration looking for a cheaper option due to financial struggles, and, on the hockey side of things, Miller’s relative lack of success in recent years. Miller accused the school of Title IX discrimination, the school denied it, and with all of that ongoing tension, the season eventually came to a close and a new head coach was hired. Maura Crowell, who was an assistant at Harvard and took over as head coach for the Crimson during the 2013-14 season due to Katey Stone’s U.S. Olympic Team commitment, was brought in, as were assistants Laura Bellamy and Samantha Reber, both Harvard products as well.

Meet the Newcomers

G Maddie Rooney, U.S. Under-18 Select Team, Andover H.S.

Rooney was a member of the U.S. Under-18 Team for the three-game series against Canada back in August of 2013, and also participated in USA’s Top-6 goaltending camp and three USA Hockey development camps. After playing on Andover’s (Minn.) girls’ team as a sophomore and junior, she decided to switch over to the boys’ team for her final year in order to further her own development. Her senior season was highlighted by a 41-save performance against Duluth East, which earned her a mention from ESPN, and an all-conference honorable mention nod. With the girls’ team, she helped Andover make its first-ever state tournament appearance, and garnered All-Tournament Team, all-conference, and all-state honorable mention accolades.

D Shelby Brossart, Minnesota Revolution, Grand Forks Central H.S.

Brossart played at Grand Forks Central (N.D.) for three seasons before heading out to Minnesota to play for the Revolution. As a sophomore and junior with the Knight Riders, Brossart captured all-state honors. Graduating from Achiever Academy in 2014, she spent the 2014-15 season with the Revolution.

D Valerie Drouin, Limoilou Titans

With the Titans, Drouin was an RSEQ Second Team All-Star and played in the All-Star Game in each of the past two seasons. She skated for Team Quebec at the 2012 Canadian Women’s National Under-18 Championships, and won two RSEQ championships with Limoilou. Drouin was also invited to try out for Canada’s National Women’s Development Team but was unable to attend camp in August.

F Reagan Haley, Red Wing H.S.

A three-time all-state honoree at Red Wing (Minn.), Haley was a semifinalist for the 2015 Minnesota Ms. Hockey Award as a senior after finishing second in the state with 97 points on the year. She totaled 47 goals and 50 assists in 30 games played, and was also recognized as an All-State Academic Award honoree. A varsity player since the seventh grade, Red Wing has earned five trips to the state tournament during her career, including two third-place finishes, and Haley owns the state record for most assists in a period in a state tournament game with three and most assists in a state tournament game with five. In total, she notched 133 goals, 258 assists, and 391 points in 177 career games.

F Morgan Morse, Lakeville South H.S.

A captain for Lakeville South (Minn.), Morse ended her career as the team’s all-time leading goal scorer with 81 to her name. She helped the Cougars earn a bid to the Class AA state tournament this past season, and she herself was named to the All-Tournament Team after leading the tournament in scoring. She was a four-time All-South Suburban Conference selection and also participated in three USA Hockey Under-18 national camps. In total, Morse posted 81 goals, 87 assists, and 168 points in 141 games with Lakeville South.

F Emma Yanko, Notre Dame Hounds, Okanagan Hockey Academy

With the Notre Dame Hounds this past season, Yanko tallied 13 points in 28 games to help the squad finish as runner-ups in the JWHL. She spent the previous season with Okanagan, scoring 10 points in 28 games, and was also named to Team Saskatchewan for both the Canadian Women’s National Under-18 Championships and the Canada Winter Games.

 

For more details on the Bulldogs’ incoming class, check out the UMDBulldogs.com release.

2015-16 Season Preview

Key Departures: F Zoe Hickel, F Jenna McParland, F Meghan Huertas, D Brigette Lacquette, D Emma Stauber, D Tea Villila
Key Returners: F Ashleigh Brykaliuk, F Lara Stalder, F Katerina Mrázová, F Michelle Löwenhielm, D Sidney Morin, D Jessica Healey, G Kayla Black
Key Additions: G Maddie Rooney, D Valerie Drouin, F Reagan Haley, F Morgan Morse, F Emma Yanko

Overall, the Bulldogs’ offense last season was efficient, and they were one of the country’s better teams when it came to generating pressure, ranking sixth in the nation with 32.57 shots on goal per game. They did, however, struggle more to score against the stronger teams they faced, and though they weren’t bad defensively either, they couldn’t keep up with those clubs on the defensive end. They settled for a fourth-place finish in the always-tough WCHA, and couldn’t get past a gritty Bemidji State team in the first round, but that doesn’t mean they lacked the talent or that they couldn’t perform. This season, with a good chunk of that talent returning and a new coach behind the bench, the key for UMD will be staying as consistent as possible and finding a way to take more points from the top teams they face.

Inconsistent goaltending was an issue in the past, but last season, Kayla Black solidified herself as a more-than-capable starter for the team. She ranked in the top 10 in the country with a .935 save percentage, and also posted a 1.73 goals-against average, 10 shutouts, and a 19-12-5 record. If the senior holds that form this year, Minnesota Duluth will have little to worry about in the crease. Even if there is some regression, I’d expect her experience to win out and for her to remain the team’s go-to, so we probably won’t see much from Maddie Rooney this year. Rooney does, however, have potential, and her development over the next couple of seasons will be interesting to track.

A likely reason why Black was able to settle down in net was because of the Bulldogs’ depth on the blue line last season. With the graduation of three key seniors in Brigette Lacquette, Emma Stauber, and Tea Villila, the group as a whole will have several adjustments to make. Sidney Morin has been a reliable defender and efficient play-maker through her first two seasons, and tallied 15 points last season; as an assistant captain for the club, she’ll be seen as a leader on the blue line. Bigger things are expected out of sophomores Jessica Healey and Linnea Hedin, particularly Healey, who spent August with the Canadian Development Team. Those three players are pretty clearly UMD’s top group defensively, but we could also see freshman Valerie Drouin contribute right away, as well as a bigger role for sophomore Catherine Daoust.

The Bulldogs last season had plenty of options to turn to up front, making it possible to put together three threatening lines. Unfortunately for this year’s squad, they’re graduating three of those more important options in Zoe Hickel, Jenna McParland, and Meghan Huertas. Hickel was one of the team’s go-to players at all times, leading Minnesota Duluth in scoring with 32 points, and she’ll be missed most. But juniors Ashleigh Brykaliuk and Lara Stalder should be ready to take the reins up front, and classmate Katerina Mrázová gives them another strong threat. Sophomore Michelle Löwenhielm will look to build off of a 12-point rookie season, and freshman Reagan Haley will hopefully be able to chip in right away.

After graduating a significant part of their core, the Bulldogs will have a fairly young team this year, at least in terms of where their major contributions are expected to come from. But Black gives them some veteran stability in goal, and a strong junior class will carry a lot of the weight for the team. They won’t be able to fully replace the scorers they’re losing up front, however, so there’s a strong possibility we’ll see the offense scaled back a bit. Despite everything that happened with the coaching change last season, and the questions that the program now faces, there is still a considerable amount of talent in this line-up. They’ll have the ability to challenge every team they face once again, but with less depth defensively this time around, they’re going to be challenged themselves to consistently beat the teams ahead of them. We’ll see if they have better luck this year with a new coaching staff in place.

Schedule Highlights

Oct. 2-3 at Boston College
Oct. 9-10 at Bemidji State
Oct. 23-24 at Minnesota
Nov. 13-14 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 20-21 at North Dakota
Nov. 27-28 vs. Harvard
Dec. 11-12 at Ohio State
Jan. 8-9 at Wisconsin
Jan. 15-16 vs. North Dakota
Jan. 22-23 vs. Bemidji State
Feb. 12-13 vs. Minnesota

3 thoughts on “2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s