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ISSUE 121 VOL 12 PUBLISHED 2/29/2008

Hockey splits final weekend

By Barrett Kennedy
Sports Editor

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday marked the final home hockey game, including the "senior night" tradition. The six seniors recognized before the start of the game led their teammates to a convincing 4-1 victory over St. Thomas, then-ranked fourth in the nation.

Defensemen John Paulson '08 netted his fifth goal of the season to begin the Oles' night, with the lone assist going to Nick Stalock '09. St. Thomas evened the score on the power play in a penalty-filled first period.

St. Thomas outshot the Oles 13-3 in the second frame, but goaltender Nick Krauss '11 stymied the Tommies' forwards. Krauss made a number of critical saves to thwart prime scoring opportunities, including a breakaway save against St. Thomas' leading scorer.

The men took control of the game in the third period as they rallied to score three unanswered goals. Mike MacMillan '08 scored the go-ahead goal 6:16 into the third period. MacMillan caught dish from Andy Ockuly '08 and slipped a low back-handed shot past the St. Thomas net minder.

Stalock scored the third St. Olaf goal half way through the third period. Stalock picked up the puck along the left sideboards in St. Olaf's offensive zone, circled behind the net and back up the opposite sideboards before finally freeing up enough space for a blueline slapshot. The low shot found its way through body traffic in front of the St. Thomas net.

Ockuly capped his return to the lineup by adding an insurance goal with just less than five minutes remaining to seal the Oles' victory. Ockuly settled a bouncing puck and slipped past the last St. Thomas defender before beating the goalie with a quick move to his backhand.

Ockuly, the team captain, was out of the lineup since the first game of the season after being diagnosed with an illness. In just two games this season, Ockuly has compiled three goals and an assist. In recent weeks, the senior winger skated with the team in practice, eying a possible return.

The following night, the men traveled to Mendota Heights, Minn. to wrap up their season. Saturday's game started lethargically for the Oles following Friday's exuberant win. The men found themselves trailing 3-0 after being outshot 17-3 by St. Thomas in the opening period.

Goals from defensemen Ryan Hampson '09 and Stalock sandwiched another St. Thomas goal to cut the Tommies' lead in half. However, St. Thomas added its second power-play goal to make the score 5-2 heading into the third.

Matt LaBombard '10 notched his second point of the game when he scored at the 7:49 mark of the third period. Hampson and Ben Umhoefer '10 contributed the assists on LaBombard's third goal of the season.

The St. Thomas offense continued to pepper shots at Krauss as it had the entire game and inflated the score to 7-3 with two more goals in the third period. In total, St. Thomas outshot St. Olaf 46-28 in the final game of the season.

The Oles, who finished three points shy of a playoff berth, will graduate the talents of six seniors: Jeff Budish, Justin Green, Brett Kistner, MacMillan, Ockuly and Paulson.

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