The St. Thomas men’s hockey team scored four second-period goals on its way to a 6-2 victory over St. Olaf in the regular season finale Saturday night at the St. Thomas Ice Arena. With the win, the Tommies finished second in the MIAC regular-season standings and clinched the No. 2 seed heading into the MIAC playoffs next week.
Eleven Tommie players scored in the point column passing six goals for the third time this season, including back-to-back nights this weekend against St. Olaf.
“Our kids played well, and I’m really proud of them for that. We’ll take 12 goals in a weekend,” coach Jeff Boeser said. “There’s some little things we can still tweak, but feeling good about yourselves going into the playoffs is a good thing.”
Goaltender Joe Morris had another solid night in net with 25 saves and earned his 13th win of the season.
“We always like the gritty wins, and this was a gritty game, but it’s nice to kind of be able to sit back, play some solid defense and let everything flow from there,” Morris said. “We wanted to have a good series going into the playoffs, and it’s always nice being able to get two wins.”
St. Thomas (13-7-5 overall, 10-3-3 MIAC) got off to strong start, dominating the offensive zone and out-shooting the Oles 13-2 in the first seven minutes of the game. But it was St. Olaf (6-14-5 overall, 4-8-4 MIAC) that struck first, scoring with seven seconds remaining in the period to take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Tommies answered early in the second period when the puck took a favorable bounce off a referee in front of the net. Forward Joakim Broberg was there to bury it past St. Olaf goaltender Eric Hancock to tie the game at 1-1. Four minutes later it was forward Jordan Lovick with a slick deke and backhand finish on a breakaway to give the Tommies the lead.
Boeser attributed the team’s strong offense to some changes made after last weekend’s series with Augsburg.
“We changed up our forecheck a little bit, so a little more conservative. But our guys worked hard and kept the puck in the zone, and we had a lot more chances that could’ve been buried,” Boeser said.
St. Thomas scored twice more before the second intermission. A St. Olaf cross-check penalty near the eight-minute mark in the second period led to a power play goal by forward Michael Dockry, followed by defenseman D.J. Jones connecting on a shot from the point to give the Tommies a 4-1 lead.
Senior forward Willie Faust led the way for the Tommies, scoring two goals in the third, while forwards Connor McBride and Thomas Williams each had two assists.
The game saw a total of 16 penalties, on which St. Thomas capitalized, going 2-of-4 on the power play and 5-of-6 on the penalty kill.
“It was just getting to the net, getting to the greasy areas and winning those battles in front of the net,” McBride said.
Saturday night’s game was also Senior Night for the nine seniors on the team. Seniors Morris and McBride were both glad to get the win on Senior Night in front of friends and family.
“With nine seniors on the team, everyone was pretty jacked up,” McBride said. “The underclassmen and juniors really brought their A-game for us tonight, and it was awesome.”
St. Thomas will play St. John’s in the MIAC Playoff Semifinals next Saturday at 7 p.m. in the St. Thomas Ice Arena. All three of the two team’s meetings earlier this year ended in a tie.
Joey Geske can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.