By The Numbers: 6 WCHA Sophomores To Watch In 2019-20

The 2019-20 NCAA hockey season is approaching fast and last year’s freshmen will return to their programs with an offseason of training and better understanding of the flow of college hockey.

While some players have made a name for themselves already, others will look to build on their output as sophomores and grab hold of larger roles and more minutes for the coming season.

The reigning College Hockey News’ Rookie of the Year highlights this list of sophomores to watch, while two teammates and three opposing forwards follow close behind.

Dryden McKay

G | Minnesota State

2018-19: 24-7-2, 1.76 GAA, .927 SV%, 4 SO

Last season, the Mavericks—perennial dynamos of the WCHA—entered the season with questions in the crease following the loss of both netminders from 2017-18. McKay quickly quashed any reservations about the team’s goaltending, stepping out to be among the best in the NCAA.

Now, as he preps for his sophomore season, McKay is certainly a player to watch in his second year with the program, as the Mavericks return the same dangerous core from last season. 

Ashton Calder

F | Lake Superior State

2018-19: 37 GP, 5 G, 17 A, 22 pts.

Calder is the fifth-leading scoring of the Lakers set to return for 2019-20 following the departure of three seniors. That leaves huge roles open on the offense and Calder’s second-half surge of 18 points (4 G, 14 A) in the final 21 games suggests he’s ready for more.

With a larger role comes more minutes and thus more offensive opportunities. Simply increasing Calder’s shout output from 1.29 per game (48 total shots) will bring more goals.

Julian Napravnik

F | Minnesota State

2018-19: 41 GP, 8 G, 13 A, 21 pts.

A solid start to his freshman season with the Mavericks saw Napravnik score three goals and 11 points in 17 games before a 10-game drought started to skew his offensive output. But five goals and 10 points in his final 18 games saw him finish the season with a modest eight goals and 21 points.

A year of experience, coupled with a returning core mentioned earlier, Napravnik is due for an increase offensively and will add depth to the already potent Mavericks lineup.

Brian Halonen

F | Michigan Tech

2018-19: 35 GP, 12 G, 9 A, 21 pts.

After leading the Huskies with 12 goals, Halonen returns as Michigan Tech’s second-leading scorer and the only player with more than eight goals. The offense will fall heavily on him in 2019-20, meaning his strong freshman season is just the beginning.

Halonen will lead the surge of young players coming through the program and the Huskies could be in for a long season, or a surprise season stemming from their youth.

Chris Van Os-Shaw

F | Minnesota State

2018-19: 18 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 pts.

The third of three Mavericks players to make the list, Van Os-Shaw’s freshman season wasn’t quite as expected, but given he was forced to sit out the first half of the season, it’s fair to believe there’s much more to his game.

The 6-foot-2, 201-pound train ran away with the AJHL’s scoring title in 2017-18 with 51 goals and 97 points in 59 games. That kind of offense doesn’t just disappear, and you can expect come March next year, Van Os-Shaw will be a pivotal piece for the Mavericks.

Griffin Loughran

F | Northern Michigan

2018-19: 35 GP, 7 G, 11 A, 18 pts.

The Wildcats’ biggest question mark is in the crease, but losing three of their top four scorers is a close second. Loughran is the fourth-leading returning scorer and is destined for a bigger role next season for a Wildcats team currently in flux.

With 72 penalty minutes, Loughran plays with an edge, but he’ll need to find the balance between intimidation and scoring for the Wildcats in 2019-20.

Other sophomores to watch in 2019-20 include Owen Sillinger (Bemidji State), Roni Salmenkangas (Ferris State), and Trenton Bliss (Michigan Tech).

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

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