FOND DU LAC, Wis. - The Marian University men's hockey team enjoyed a successful 2015-16 season going 18-7-3 and with a strong core of returning players the Sabres will look to build off of that success in 2016-17.
MU achieved a lot last season, but with a new season just on the horizon, the Sabres are focused on building on last year's success and reaching even greater heights. Marian finished last season ranked No. 14 in the nation, the first time finishing a season ranked since the 2010-11 team that went 19-8-0. The Sabres also were able to reach the NCHA Harris Cup playoff semifinals for the first time in program history where MU was swept by St. Norbert.
The 2016-17 team will have a potent mixture of experience and youth with 11 newcomers balanced with seven seniors. Of the returners, Marian brings back four of their top five scorers from last season led by junior forwards Derek Thorogood (9-25--34) and Hunter Stewart (3-28--34). Thorogood was named All-NCHA last season after ranking second on the team in points, while Stewart led the Sabres in assists during the 2015-16 season.
The Sabres also return their top defenseman in Gianni Mangone (12-14--26) who brought in a plethra of hardware following the season including All-NCHA, All-NCHA Freshman, and D3Hockey.com Third Team All-Region accolades. Mangone also led the way for Marian with five power play goals, and four game winners.
In the crease, Marian will once again look to utilize the tandem of senior Mike Baldwin (13-4-3, 1.60, .931) and junior Mike Gudmandson (5-3-0, 2.21, .903). Baldwin had a career year for the Sabres last year en route to being named All-NCHA and placed on the D3Hockey.com All-Region Third Team. The senior netminder was one of the best in the NCHA last season leading the conference for save percentage, ranking second for goals against average, while recording four shutouts.
Gudmandson quietly put together a solid 2015-16 season where he recorded one shutout and had a 23 save performance in the program's first win over St. Norbert during the opening weekend of the season.
The Sabres will feature 11 newcomers who will look to make an immediate impact on the program led by junior transfer Braden Crone. Crone was the top scorer for rival Concordia Wisconsin in 2015-16 tallying 21 points with 10 goals and 11 assists.
The 2016-17 schedule will once again feature a tough first half for Marian with the Sabres facing off against both teams from the 2015-16 National Championship game, St. Norbert and UW-Stevens Point. Marian will play a total of 12 games at Blue Line Family Ice Center, where the Sabres held a 10-2-1 record last season, and hit the road for 13 games.
Marian opens the season on the road at St. Norbert Friday, Oct. 28 for a 7 p.m. puck drop.