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ISSUE 120 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/17/2006

Men struggle to find niche

By Matthew Stortz
Staff Writer


Friday, November 17, 2006

The St. Olaf men’s hockey team fell to UW-Superior in a close 4-3 match last Saturday in Northfield.

St. Olaf drew first blood when Casey Dynan ’09 scored a late first period goal on assists from Ben Umhoefer ’10 and John Egge ’07. Dynan’s goal gave the Oles a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

If the first period was about defense, the second period was about offense. UW-Superior opened up a two goal lead midway through the second period with three consecutive goals, jumping ahead of the Oles 3-1. St. Olaf responded however, when Umhoefer netted a power play goal, assisted by Egge. Dynan scored his second goal of the night just seconds later, also assisted by Egge, evening the score at 3-3 at the second intermission.

UW-Superior netted a go-ahead goal early in the third period, gaining a one-goal 4-3 lead over the Oles that they would not relinquish. UW-Superior clamped down defensively, preventing an otherwise potent Ole offense from scoring in the third period.

St. Olaf goalie Jeff Wilde ’07 stopped 27 shots on the night for a save percentage of .870.

Unfortunately, the Saturday night loss to UW-Superior came on the heels of a 4-0 Friday night loss to the St. Scholastica Saints at the Northfield Ice Arena.

The Oles took plenty of shots on net against the Saints, accumulating 34 shots to the Saints 28. However, St. Scholastica took advantage of the Oles in both power play and shorthanded situations, scoring two shorthanded goals and two power play goals in their 4-0 victory.

The Oles, on the other hand, were a dismal 0-10 on power play opportunities, missing several opportunities to close the gap on the Saints.

Jake Busch ’09 was in net for the Oles, stopping 24 of 28 shots during the game.

The Ole power play has been a mystery this season, having scored just three goals in 46 attempts. At the same time, defensive mistakes on the power play have cost the Oles a handful of painful shorthanded goals. Such results are out of the ordinary for the Oles, whose power play needs to be on point for their series against St. Thomas.

Winless through four games, the Oles are now in preparation for a tough home-and-home weekend series against St. Thomas in a rematch of last season’s MIAC title game. The Tommies, 2-2-0 on the season, are currently ranked 15th in the nation, and are perennial contenders for the MIAC crown. A win over the Tommies would give the Oles a great boost in their MIAC title defense.

While the Oles have been stifled early this season, it bears noting that the team has rarely posted a great early season record, yet has appeared in the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. This is due in large part to head coach Sean Goldsworthy’s scheduling philosophy. Goldsworthy schedules several top-caliber teams each season for non-conference play, the idea being that such games will test the Oles early and help them to prepare for more important MIAC matchups. While such a philosophy does not work wonders in the win/loss columns, it is hard to argue with the Oles' recent success. Perhaps the greatest test will be the Oles’ performance against the Tommies this weekend.

The Oles will face the Tommies this Friday in Northfield and Saturday in St. Paul. The puck is set to drop at 7p.m. on both nights.





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