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ISSUE 118 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/3/2004

Men stumble after strong opening to season

By Joel Stjernholm
Contributing Writer

Friday, December 3, 2004

After impressive early-season wins garnered the St. Olaf men’'s hockey team national recognition, the Oles have slid to 2-2-2, putting aspirations of immediate national acclaim on ice.

The Oles'’ bad fortune began with a difficult Nov. 19 matchup against St. Norbert in De Pere, Wis., a contest they lost 5-3. St. Norbert jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage and never relinquished the lead. In fact, the Green Knights scored five of the game’s first six goals, interrupted only by a power play goal scored by Josh Biser ’'06. Biser scored twice for the Oles, while teammate Joel Ihrie ’'06 netted a score as well. Ted Bickel '’06 and Keith Townsend ’'05 earned two assists each, while Patrick Gilles '’05 and Mike MacMillan' ’08 also tallied assists.

Both teams exhibited power play prowess, netting three power play goals apiece. However, St. Norbert maintained a distinct offensive edge throughout the match, outshooting St. Olaf 33-24.

The Oles fared slightly better in their game against Lake Forest College the following Friday, tying the Foresters 1-1.

Ihrie netted St. Olaf’'s only goal, an aberration in an otherwise stagnant offense. Ihrie has scored a goal in each of St. Olaf’'s last two games, emerging as a potential offensive threat as the team begins MIAC play.

St. Olaf goaltender Jeff Wilde '’07 rebounded from a sub-par performance to make 33 saves, preserving the tie and helping St. Olaf earn a point in the overall standings.

While the hockey team clearly boasts sufficient talent to skate with the best teams in the MIAC, inconsistent play has plagued the team thus far. The Ole offense has yet to develop a rhythm, and their defense, potentially one of the MIAC'’s top units talent-wise, has performed unpredictably. If the team hopes to knock off the conference'’s better teams as the season continues, they will need to develop consistency and avoid the frustrating mistakes that have thwarted the team’'s efforts in recent games.

With conference play set to begin Dec. 10 against hockey power Bethel, St. Olaf looks to regain the composure they displayed in victories earlier this season.

The Oles cannot afford to enter the conference season mired in their current slump, as even one conference loss could end title aspirations.

However, the team is confident its members will rebound, and with good reason: Last year’'s playoff-qualifying squad started the season slowly, rallying toward the end to earn their first playoff berth in 13 years.

Head coach Sean Goldsworthy and his crew are optimistic their postseason status will solidify as the season progresses, as the Oles have a history of winning when the games count most.

The St. Olaf men'’s hockey team plays its next contest Dec. 10 against Bethel at 7 p.m. in St. Paul.

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