The 2010-11 season ended without a trip to the ACHA National Tournament for the first time in team history for the ISU hockey team.
The team graduated five seniors and looked at this season as if it would be a rebuilding year. The young talent, however, stepped up and carried them to a No. 8 ranking and a trip back to the ACHA National Tournament.
“It was a very positive season, start to finish,” said ISU coach Al Murdoch. “You’d always like to end the season on a winning note, but there’s only one team in the nation who can do that and that’s the national champion.”
The Cyclones started the season tied for No. 12 in the rankings with Robert Morris but climbed as high as No. 5 after early wins against ranked opponents, including No. 3 Arizona State on Nov. 5. They split the two-game series with the Sun Devils.
Only three teams swept the Cyclones all season long. They were swept at home and away against the CSCHL Champions, Lindenwood, and they were swept once on the road against Ohio.
The Cyclones had only one eligible senior, captain Brian Rooney, and he played every single game this season. The Cyclones were led on the scoreboard, however, by freshmen and sophomores.
Freshman forward JP Kascsak led the team with 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists), followed by fellow freshman James Buttermore, who had 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists). Sophomore Jon Feavel was third on the team in scoring with 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists), followed by fellow sophomore David Kurbatsky with 33 points (22 goals, 11 assists).
ISU goaltender Paul Karus, a senior, said this being a rebuilding year had never even crossed his mind.
“I actually thought that, ‘Wow, everybody’s stepping up, everybody’s fulfilling a role, and that’s why we’re winning,’ and that’s what we did,” Karus said.
Karus led the Cyclones between the pipes and was their leading goaltender. In 1,457 minutes throughout the season, Karus gave up only 2.51 goals per game on average and had a 0.92 save percentage.
Iowa State wasn't able to make anything happen in tournament play, despite the strong season. The Cyclones were defeated in the first round of the CSCHL Tournament by Illinois and beat in the second round of the ACHA Tournament by Oklahoma after their first-round bye.
“I think they turned a rebuilding year into a year to build off of,” Karus said. “We did good this year, we can do great next year and the following year, because we’ve got a core group of the juniors, sophomores and the freshman that, for years to come, will just keep building off of that.”