Center Ice: Long-time head coach Mike Carroll enters 24th season with GAC

Mike Carroll joined Mary Rominger for a conversation following the team’s 8-0 start to the season.
Updated: Nov. 27, 2022 at 10:00 AM CST
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - The No. 2 Gustavus women’s hockey team is guided by the second winningest coach all-time in NCAA Division III women’s hockey, Mike Carroll. Carroll and the Golden Gusties finished the 2021-22 season as national champion runners-up and now the program hopes to get back on the national stage, once again. The long-time coach spoke with Mary Rominger following the team’s 8-0 start to the season.

Mary Rominger: Coach Carroll, when you look back to last year’s national championship loss, can you recall some of the emotions that we had from the players, the coaching staff and all that was that 3-2 overtime, heart wrenching loss?

Mike Carroll: Yeah. Looking back on it now, it was such a great year and a great experience for everyone on our team, and to have our seniors go out that way, making it to the final game, is something that we’re really happy and proud of. At the time, though, I mean, it was gut wrenching. We played great, but we get in that situation and over time, the next goal wins no matter what. We had a lot of adversity to deal with. We were in their own rink, we had traveled really well, a lot of our parents made it there. So it was a great atmosphere, a great game, and hopefully now that that’s past us and we’re looking for this season, we can look back on it later, but hopefully use it as a springboard to get off to a good start this year.

MR: How convinced are you, a handful of games into the season, that this team that returns 18 players from last year’s team can repeat the same level of success, if not more? Or do you still need some time to figure that out?

MC: We certainly need time to figure it out. We have all the pieces in play as far as having experience in that, but hockey is a game of bounces and mistakes, and when you play what team win or there are so many things out of your control, so we’re just worried about controlling.The things that we can control is our effort and our attitude, and not to look too far down the road and just take it one week, one game at a time and that’s been what we’ve been doing so far and we’re about a month and a half in and things are going pretty well right now, but we can certainly play a lot better overall than we have been.

MR: MIAC Coach of the Year, entering your 24th season with this Gustavus women’s hockey team, how proud are you of the progress and the part you played in building this program to what is now nationally ranked at number two for this season so far?

MC: Well, that’s sort of a hard question to answer just because it’s way more about the players and the school and administration and just everything that goes into my assistant coaches. I’m very blessed to have five really good, experienced assistant coaches that make my life a lot easier and it’s something I can look back on when I decide to retire. But right now it’s this year and we’re going to do it the best we can right now.

MR: What’s the theme? What are the conversations and the words being said by the players and how they want to get back to where they were last year competing on the national stage in achieving a level of success that this program has never seen before.

MC: Well, the captains, we have good leadership and our captain and upperclassmen are taking care of that. We don’t talk about that very much. We’re just trying to have a better day today and tomorrow and prove and bring our younger players along as well. But we’re going to lean on our experienced veteran group to guide us as we go.

MR: Describe this veteran group in a few words of all that you’ve seen of their abilities and their vocal ability in their last season playing with Gustavus.

MC: It’s ironic you mentioned that we’ve been working on being more vocal on the ice. They’re very good, hardworking young ladies and they really enjoy being around each other. And for them to put up with an old guy like myself all the time, it’s sort of funny at times. But they know that the coaches are working towards the same goals that they have and it’s about the team first and the individuals second. And that sometimes in a team sport hard to keep straight. But that’s why you rely on the upperclassmen and the leaders of the team have that workout.