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ISSUE 118 VOL 13 PUBLISHED 3/11/2005

Lose-lose playoff proposition: Oles fall short in overtime, miss upset

By Joel Stjernholm
Sports Editor

Friday, March 11, 2005

After 13 years of playoff drought, the St. Olaf men’s hockey team has earned two consecutive playoff berths. The Oles finished this season with an 8-4-4 conference record, (14-7-6 overall) ranking fourth in the MIAC – one better than their fifth place finish last season.

In their semifinal match, the Oles played regular season MIAC champion St. John’s, the team which ultimately ended last year’s post-season push.

Though last season’s playoff run came to an abrupt end with a 5-0 loss to the Johnnies, St. Olaf played well in that game, holding St. John’s scoreless until the third period, when a flurry of goals elevated St. John’s to victory.

This year it was the Oles who drew first blood with junior Mitch Mudra’s first period goal. Mudra’s goal was assisted by Andy Ockuly ’08 and John Biser ’06.

The Johnnies evened the score with a second period power play goal, and after a scoreless third period, the game went to overtime.

Despite the Ole’s aggressive play, St. John’s scored at the 6:13 mark to end the St. Olaf’s playoff aspirations.

Three Oles, Keith Townsend ’05, Will Wetterlin ’06 and Dan Kehler ’06 earned All-MIAC honors, with Ted Bickel ’06 and Mike MacMillan ‘08 earning All-MIAC honorable mention awards. John Paulson ‘08 was named to the MIAC’s all-rookie team.

These awards reflect not only the talent possessed by the Oles, but also the depth and youth of the roster.

Kehler, a goalie, will be back in net next season for the Oles, and Wetterlin and Bickel will provide a solid defensive and offensive foundation for Ole skaters, as well as providing leadership for new recruits.

If this season is indicative of next, the Oles will maintain high expectations for new players.

While Ole skaters and net-minders certainly deserve tremendous praise, Ole fans would be remiss not to recognize the contributions St. Olaf head coach Sean Goldsworthy, an Ole hockey alum has offered the program. During his tenure, the Oles have risen from MIAC mediocrity to becoming annual contenders, nearly defeating St. John’s in playoff action two consecutive years.

Though the Oles did not complete their post-season run this year, many Oles will return, joined by fresh recruits, to tackle MIAC competition next season.

Energized by the success of the previous two seasons, Ole fans are already discussing MIAC title possibilities for the 2005-06 season.

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