JAKE’S TAKE: Tigers making early impact on the ice on multiple levels
MARSHALL – With the heat of summer waning and the fall breeze beginning to pick up it can only mean one thing: the start of hockey season has finally arrived.
This past week, the 2019-2020 NHL season officially got underway and college hockey was not far behind with its season-opening slate of games wrapping up over the weekend as well. Though the high school season is still months away, that hasn’t stopped current Tiger players from also taking the ice to prepare for another exciting run.
Here’s an update on what Marshall hockey players of past and present have been up to.
American Club Hockey Association
Whether its coaching or playing, the Marshall hockey program is well-represented in the club hockey ranks with three former players showing off their skills at North Dakota State University (ACHA Division II) and the University of Jamestown (ACHA Division I).
For the Bison, goalie Mason Campion and forward Derek Rasmussen are in their final season with the program after helping to lead the team to a 17-5-3 record and a second-place finish in the 13-team Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association in 2018.
So far this season, NDSU is 2-4 through six games after recently splitting a two-game series with the University of Jamestown’s DII team. Rasmussen, who led the team in points last season with 49 (26 goals and 23 assists) is off to another strong start this season with 11 points (three goals and eight assists) in six games including nine in the team’s most recent two-game series with Jamestown. Campion has yet to see time between the pipes.
Matt Campion’s older brother Mitch, another former Marshall goalie, is in his second season as the assistant coach of the University of Jamestown ACHA DI team. Last year, the Jimmies went 21-14-2 overall and are currently 2-1 after sweeping Minot State this past weekend.
Upper Midwest High School Elite League
Current Marshall seniors Kaleb Welvaert and Dominik Caspers have had a busy September competing all over the state in the Elite League, a fall hockey league comprised of some of the best high school players throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. The two Tigers are the first to be selected to compete in the event in well over a decade.
The previous two Tigers to play in the Elite League were Tony and Cory Krogen, who competed in the lower-tiered Elite League II back when it was broken up into two separate leagues. Cory Krogen went on to play four seasons with DIII Hamline University.
The two current Tiger standouts play for the same team, SIT Mutual Funds, and have helped lead the group to a 5-7-1record through 13 games with six still left to play. So far, Welvaert has accumulated two points in 13 games played with a goal and an assist. Caspers has been in net for 10 of the team’s 13 games and has posted a 3-6-1 record overall with a .916 save percentage and a 3.49-goals against average. Caspers’ best game of the season came less than a week ago when he stopped all 52 shots he faced against Corner Home Medical in a 1-0 shutout victory.
The Elite League will wrap up on Oct. 30th when the team travels to New Hope Ice Arena for its final game. Prior to the finale, the group will make stops at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire, Wis. as well as Shattuck-St. Mary’s Ice Arena in Faribault.
(North American Hockey League)
It hasn’t taken long for Marshall hockey’s all-time leading scorer Mason Plante to find his niche at the next level of competition as he has already found the back of the net for his new team in Fairbanks, and is up to four points total in seven games played.
The Ice Dogs, who fell in last season’s Robertson Cup (NAHL championship game), are currently 5-3 to start the 2019-2020 season, and will play 60 games total when it’s all said and done. Plante had a homecoming of sorts this weekend when his team traveled to Richfield and swept the Minnesota Magicians, one of four NAHL teams based in the state.
NCAA Division I
Marshall’s Nolan Schaeffer is set to begin his second season of competition at the DI level with Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Schaeffer is coming off of a successful freshman campaign in which he finished with two assists and ranked fifth on the team in blocked shots with 42.
The Colonials, who finished 16-22-2 overall and 11-15-2 in Atlantic Hockey Association conference play last season, fell in the semifinals of the league tournament to the eventual champions of American International College. U.S. College Hockey Online predicts that the Colonials will finish eighth in the 11-team league this season.
Robert Morris opened up its season on Saturday against Michigan Tech University and went on to get swept in the two-game series by the Huskies.