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ISSUE 120 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 12/1/2006

Hockey earns split with Tommies

By Matthew Stortz
Staff Writer

Friday, December 1, 2006

The St. Olaf men's hockey team defeated St. Thomas 3-1 two Saturdays ago at the St. Thomas arena. The victory gives the men their first win this season, as well as their first win in MIAC play.

The Oles and Tommies battled through a defensively-oriented first period. By the first intermission, no goals had been scored, and only 13 shots on goal had been taken.

While the first period may have been even, St. Olaf owned the second period. The Oles broke the nil-nil tie when captain John Egge '07 scored a power play goal on an assist from Nick Stalock '09. Sophomore Dylan Mueller's goal, scored on assists from Ryan Hampson '09 and Bryan Osmundson '10, gave the Oles a 2-0 advantage midway through the second period. With less than a minute remaining, John Paulson '08 added a goal of his own, assisted by Mueller and Barret Simons '09, giving the Oles a three goal lead for the second intermission.

The Tommies scored their first goal early in the third period, and held the Oles to just five shots on goal. However, the Tommies would score no more, as the Oles left St. Paul with a 3-1 conference win.

St. Olaf goalie Jeff Wilde '07 stopped 32 of 33 Tommie shots, earning an outstanding save percentage of .970. Wilde has earned a .924 save percentage in MIAC play, currently second best among MIAC goalies, prompting MIAC prognosticators to grant him the nickname Jeff "the Wall" Wilde.

Unfortunately, Saturday's win came on the heels of a close 4-3 loss to the Tommies at home. The Oles drew first blood when Egge scored an unassisted goal less than a minute into the first period, but the Tommies evened the score before the first intermission.

The Tommies scored again in the second period and held the Oles scoreless, earning a 2-1 advantage for the third period.

A pair of St. Olaf goals, one a power play goal, by Mueller, gave the Oles a 3-2 lead midway through the third. The Oles allowed two Tommie goals in the last five minutes of play, however, including one shorthanded goal, and were unable to even the score in the final minute of play.

A split with St. Thomas, a perennial MIAC powerhouse, positions the Oles well in the MIAC. The Oles will be tested again by MIAC opponents in the near future, taking on Augsburg this weekend and MIAC title contender St. John's the weekend after. Should the Oles play well against the Auggies and Johnnies, they will be well positioned for another playoff berth and title run. The Oles seem well-prepared in net and in even strength situations, and their power play and penalty kill units have shown improvement, suggesting that the Oles are, once again, geared up in time for MIAC play.

The Oles play Augsburg this Friday at St. Olaf and again on Saturday in Minneapolis. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. on both nights.

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