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ISSUE 118 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/25/2005

Men skate closer to playoffs

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor

Friday, February 25, 2005

The St. Olaf men’s hockey team earned their 11th victory of the season Feb. 18 with a win over Hamline at the Northfield Ice Arena, moving one step closer to securing a place in the MIAC playoffs. Unfortunately, the team was unable to complete the sweep of the last place Pipers Feb. 19, returning from St. Paul with a 3-3 tie.

Ted Bickel ’06 and Mitch Mudra ’07 each scored two goals in St. Olaf’s 6-0 win over the Pipers Friday. Andy Ockuly ’08 and Pat Gilles ’05 also scored for St. Olaf, with John Egge ’07 tallying four assists.

“We were motivated because the game had playoff implications,” Bickel said after the game. “All four lines played well and everyone worked hard all three periods.” Bickel’s two goals against Hamline brought his season total to 16.

Ole goalie Dan Kehler ’06 played a phenomenal game in net, earning 18 saves in Friday’s shutout. “DK’s effort was a huge part of our win Friday,” Bickel said.

Kehler has been a consistent goalie for St. Olaf, stopping over 90 percent of the shots sent his way and maintaining a low 2.55 goals-against average. The Oles will rely on Kehler’s abilities as they pursue a playoff berth.

The Oles were not able to replicate its offensive or defensive success during Saturday’s tie, allowing Hamline to escape with just their third point of the conference season. Gilles, Egge and Mike MacMillan ’08 all scored for St. Olaf.

Despite allowing a shorthanded goal with just minutes remaining in the third period, Kehler played well in net during Saturday’s match, averting 13 Piper shots, including a critical overtime save.

Prior to this weekend, the Oles needed to sweep Hamline and St. Mary’s, the only remaining teams on their schedule, to earn a third place finish in regular season MIAC standings and a first-round bye in the MIAC playoffs. Currently tied for third with Bethel at 16 points, St. Olaf can still earn a coveted bye but must play well against a tough St. Mary’s team this weekend.

Adding to the tension, the Cardinals are currently tied with Gustavus for fifth place in MIAC standings. If St. Mary’s beats St. Olaf and Gustavus falters, the Cardinals will earn a playoff berth. However, if the Oles gain at least a win and a tie this weekend, the Cardinals’ season will likely be finished.

Friday night’s game, potentially the team’s last home game of the season, will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday’s action gets underway at 7 p.m. in Winona, Minn.

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