As the playoffs draw closer, the Marquette club hockey team (19-7-1) is beginning to cement its starting lineup.
After a team meeting Monday, coach Will Jurgensen explained he wants to start putting the best players on the ice to prepare for postseason play with only three weekends left in the regular season.
“It’s going to be interesting with this tournament on what we do with the goalies and lines, but that was something we brought up at the team meeting on Monday,” Jurgensen said. “It’ll be very spelled out and very straightforward, the guys that are working the hardest and the guys that are playing the best hockey will play. It doesn’t matter what year they are to me anymore. First semester, I might have done different things for different reasons, but at this point in time it’s about putting the best guys on the ice.”
One position of interest is in the net. At the start of the semester, junior Thomas Place looks to be the favorite as the No. 1 goaltender through the rest of the season. While Place may be second in goals against at 3.67 goals per game, his statistics are better than they appear. Three of Place’s games in net were against Oakland and Arkansas, both in the top two of their respective ACHA regions and both high scoring teams. Coupled with Place starting more than half of the team’s games and his save percentage at .780, and he appears to be the favorite to start down the stretch.
However, sophomore Alejandro Anderson and freshman Robbie Arner both make compelling cases for starters’ minutes. Anderson may have only four starts, but he does lead the team in goals against average with 2.25 goals per game. Arner also could garner starters minutes based off having the second most starts on the team at six.
With a number of candidates in mind, Jurgensen explained he plans to manage the position going forward.
“For this tournament, I’d imagine that our No. 1 goalie will play two out of the three round robin games and if we make it to the championship game, probably then as well,” Jurgensen said. “The nice thing is, after this weekend, we’ll have two weekends when we can use the other two to play. We’re going to be playing a lot of hockey so I don’t want to burn them out.”
The tournament itself will be played on familiar ice for the No. 8 Golden Eagles. Centennial Ice Arena is Northwestern’s home rink, where Marquette swept the Wildcats on the road by a 9-1 goal margin in early October. Along with playing Northwestern once again, Marquette will also face Santa Clara and No. 14 Michigan in the round robin games. Following the tournament, the Golden Eagles will play their final home series of the year against Loyola-Chiacgo. The games will be the final home appearances for the seniors on the roster.