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ISSUE 117 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/27/2004

Women split with St. Marys, clinch postseason berth

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, February 27, 2004

The St. Olaf womens hockey teams journey toward becoming one of the top squads in the MIAC took a giant leap forward this season. For the first time in team history, the Oles year will not end with the final regular season game. This year, the Oles will lace em up in the MIAC tournament.

Ladies hockey on the Hill began at the turn of the millennium when the team posted a dismal 1-17-0 record, tied for worst in the MIAC. With nowhere to go but up, the Oles scrapped together two wins the following season and finished above last place Hamline before bursting onto the scene in 2002-2003, missing a postseason berth by the slimmest of margins.

The team currently holds the third position in the MIAC standings with a 10-6-0 record in conference play but is hardly in a comfortable position. Only one point separates the Oles from fourth place Augsburg and they hold a two-point cushion over fifth place St. Marys. That means the squad could enter the postseason as the third, fourth or fifth seed.

The importance of maintaining third place is to avoid the play-in game, which pits the fourth and fifth seed teams against each other to determine which team plays undefeated St. Thomas in the semi-finals. Having an extra few days of rest will undoubtedly serve the Oles well when they make their postseason debut.

The team garnered their postseason berth after a weekend split with St. Marys. The Oles fell to a determined Cardinals team 5-4 at home Friday night before traveling to Winona for a 3-1 victory in Saturdays matinee.

Fridays game started as a defensive struggle with both squads going scoreless in the first period. It did not take long for the second period to produce some excitement as Lindsay Weier 06 scored a power play goal off assists from Kate Barnett 05 and Sarah Ray 04 just 59 seconds after the opening whistle. St Marys struck back less than a minute later to even the score.

The Cardinals added two goals in the next eight minutes to make the score 3-1, before Ray found the back of the net on another Ole power play to close the scoring for the period.

St. Marys regained their two-goal advantage just 27 seconds after the break and extended their lead to three midway through the final period. Kelsey Skogland 07 scored the Oles third power play goal of the game on a pass from Brit Schultheis 05 late in the third session to bring the score to 5-3. Weier lit the lamp for the second time in the game with 12 seconds left in the contest, but that was the final goal of the game and the loss dropped the Oles into a third place tie with the St. Marys.

After Saturdays game, however, the Oles reclaimed sole possession of third place, sending the Cardinals back from whence they came. Barnett, Erin Baxter 05 and Kayla Wente 05 supplied the offense while the rest of the team displayed the stifling defense that has become the teams trademark.

A pair of weekend home games with Concordia is all that remains of the Oles regular season schedule. A series sweep will guarantee a semi-final date with Gustavus on March 4.

Fridays game gets under way at 7:00 p.m. and the puck drops at 2:00 p.m. for Saturdays rematch.

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