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ISSUE 121 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/16/2007

Hockey toughened by tests

By Barrett Kennedy
Sports Editor

Friday, November 16, 2007

No, the St. Olaf hockey team is not playing in the national tournament, though it may appear that way. Last weekend's nonconference opponents included sixth-ranked UW-Stout and third-ranked UW-River Falls. Again, the men tested their early-season mettle and proved they can compete with the top teams in the nation.

Saturday's 4-4 tie against River Falls marked an excellent opportunity for St. Olaf to address the Division III hockey world. The game was tied 1-1 after the first period after both teams scored on power plays. Barret Simons '09 scored on the man-advantage with the assist going to Bryan Osmondson '10.

St. Olaf dominated early in the second period and raced out to a 4-1 lead just over halfway through the game. Nick Stalock '09 scored his fifth goal in four games just 1:07 in, with Jeff Budish '08 setting up the play. The two combined again just over two minutes later. This time Budish found the net on the power play, while Stalock and Michael MacMillan '08 tallied the assists. Dylan Mueller '09 tacked on the fourth St. Olaf goal at 10:20 of the second period. Budish notched his second assist and third point of the game.

However, penalty killing proved the bane of an otherwise outstanding St. Olaf performance. All four River Falls goals were scored on the power play. The Falcon's power play happened to feature three All-Americans.

St. Olaf outshot River Falls 26-15 in the first two periods, but the third-ranked Falcons adjusted by the third period and out shot the Oles 21-8 in the rest of the game. Tied at four, the game went to a five minute overtime session that featured more conservative defensive play, as neither team wanted to concede a loss at that point.

"It would have been great to beat [River Falls] on Saturday in the home opener," Stalock said. "But a tie with the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, you cannot complain."

Friday, the men traveled to Buffalo, Minn. to play sixth-ranked UW-Stout in the College Hockey Showcase, a fundraiser for the Buffalo Youth Hockey Association. The Oles struggled early and found themselves down 3-0 midway through the second period.

Brett Kistner '08 netted his first goal of the season on an assist from Will Smith '09 to spark the Oles' offense. Just over two minutes later, Mueller tallied another goal on assists from Ryan Hampson '09 and Budish to draw the men within one. However, Dave Adams '10 was called for tripping late in the second period, and Stout reestablished its cushioned lead on the ensuing power play, scoring with just 33 seconds remaining.

Stalock recorded two goals in the third, the first at 6:13 assisted by Sam Windsor '09 and the second at 18:00 assisted by MacMillan, to make the score 5-4. Down by one goal with less than two minutes to play in regulation, coach Sean Goldsworthy pulled net-minder Jake Busch '09 for an extra attacker. Stout scored on the empty net to seal the game 6-4, improving their record to 6-0.

"The loss obviously isn't sitting well with anyone," Stalock said. "But overall I think the team is feeling good [about the weekend]."

Although the Oles didn't post a win this weekend, they gained valuable experience playing some of the best teams in the country, which will greatly benefit the men as they enter MIAC play versus Augsburg next weekend.

"All of the NCHA teams [we have played] are hard-hitting, skilled teams which are great preparation for our conference schedule," Mueller said. "We like to know where we stand in the crowd, and this year we hope to prove it's at the front."

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