Tommie Women's Hockey comes into the 2019-20 season with a No. 5 national ranking by U.S. College Hockey Online, and by the closest of margins the No. 1 pick in a preseason poll of MIAC head coaches.
St. Thomas graduated two All-America players -– record-setting goalie Kenzie Torpy and defender Demi Cooper -- among four seniors, but returns 20 players from a 25-3-2, Final Four team of last winter.
Coach Tom Palkowski's team starts its season this Saturday with a road game at St. Scholastica.
In the MAC poll, St. Thomas has five first-place votes and 77 points, while Hamline has the remaining five and 76 votes. Augsburg, Gustavus and Concordia-Moorhead rank 3-4-5.
Tops in the Nation
Palkowski was named Division III National Coach of the Year last March after guiding his teams to the national semifinals for the second time in six seasons. He surpassed 200 career wins last postseason, and St. Thomas is 33-3-7 in its last 43 games since December 2017.
A Season to Savor
The Tommies were ranked No. 1 in the national poll for the first time in program history, and set a school record for season victories with 25. They swept the conference regular-season and playoff crowns, and Palkowski was named MIAC Coach of the Year.
The Toms have reached the NCAA playoffs five of the last six seasons. St. Thomas' 2018-19 MIAC championship sweep of the regular season and the playoffs made it 19 consecutive seasons that the program has placed first, second or third in the conference.
The Tommies start out with a Nov. 2 road test at St. Scholastica. Eight of their next 12 games will be on home ice, including November 8-9 games against UW-Stevens Point and Dec, 6-7 games against Concordia-Moorhead. Their conference opener is Nov. 15 against St. Olaf.
Three seniors and one junior will share St. Thomas' captain duties in 2019-20: Repeat captain and defender Anna Williams; senior forwards Rachel Werdin and Isabel Bianchi; and junior forward Estee Frantz.
St. Thomas returns five forwards that either made first-team All-MIAC (Werdin and juniors Alyssa Wallace and Maddy Fiedler), or made the six-player MIAC All-Rookie Team (junior Shae McLean and sophomore Anna Solheim).
Werdin's 38 career goals include 18 last season. Wallace's 17 career goals include 10 last season. Fiedler's 15 goals include five last season, and her 38 career assists include 26 last winter. McLean had five goals and 14 assists last season. Solheim added 12 goals and nine assists last season.
Williams, an All-MIAC honoree in 2017-18, has recorded four goals and 30 assists in 84 career games. Williams leads the blue line which has helped the Tommie goalies record 22 shutouts last season. The Purple have allowed just 71 goals in 55 games over the last two seasons.
Six freshmen join the team:
- goalie Kylie Watts (50 games in two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary's);
- defender Emma Larson (three goals, 17 assists at Maple Grove High);
- forwards Jenna Hartung (46 goals, 60 assists in five years at Burnsville High);
- forward Luci Bianchi (48 goals, 53 assists in five seasons at Bloomington Jefferson High);
- F-D Maiia Almich (49 goals, 50 assists in five seasons at Centennial High);
- F-D Alli Monrean.
Tommies in 2019 D-III Fall-Winter Sport Rankings/Oct. 29
- Women's Hockey: No. 5
- Men's Golf: No. 6/8
- Football: No. 19/23
- Women's Cross Country: No. 14
- Women's Basketball: No. 9
- Men's Basketball No. 15
- Volleyball: No. 22
- Women's Soccer: No. 19
- Men's Cross Country: No. 29
- Women's Golf: No. 26
- Men's Hockey: Receiving votes
- Men's Soccer: Receiving votes