Senior captain Andrew Kappers’ two goals were not enough for the St. Thomas men’s hockey team Saturday afternoon as it was defeated 3-2 against visiting Concordia-Moorhead.
Kappers started the Tommies off with a bang, scoring a goal less than a minute into the first period. As the players celebrated the quick score, head coach Jeff Boeser was concerned on the bench.
“I was worried about that,” Boeser said. “Anytime you see that than the [players] think it’s going to be easy. I addressed it right away after the goal. I said, ‘That’s great, but we’ve got to bear down here. We have 59 minutes left.’”
After the quick goal, the Tommies controlled the pace for much of the first period, but Concordia-Moorhead sophomore Pat Deitz capitalized on a Tommie penalty and buried a shot on the power play to even the score.
Both teams came out in the second period aggressive and firing shots, but neither team was able to find the net.
Tempers started to flare on both sides, and the referees had their hands full stepping in to stop numerous after-the-whistle incidents. Boeser downplayed the rough-housing after the game.
“No bad blood,” Boeser said. “That’s just hockey.”
Momentum seemed to favor the Tommies as the team took the ice for the third period with the game tied 1-1. St. Thomas outshot Concordia 18-8 in the second period and finished the game with 28 shots on goal compared to the Cobbers’ 26. The Cobbers may have taken two less shots, but they made the most out of their opportunities.
Early in the third period, things took a turn for the worst for St. Thomas as Cobbers forwards Chris Beede and Joe Becker scored back-to-back goals in a 39-second span to give Concordia a 3-1 lead.
“There were some loose pucks, and they buried them,” Boeser said. “We had some chances too, and we didn’t bury them.”
After Concordia’s back-to-back goals, Kappers responded with his second goal of the game, taking sophomore Riley Horgan’s pass and converting it to cut the lead to 3-2. With 15 minutes left in the game, the Tommies seemed very much alive but were not able to come up with shots on goal until there was only a minute remaining.
“I think this team goes as Andy [Kappers] goes,” Boeser said. “I thought he played pretty well today. He really wanted to win, and some of the other guys didn’t jump on his back. That’s what I’m really disappointed about.”
Cobbers goalie Chris Neamonitis was able to come up with some spectacular saves down the stretch to prevent the Tommies from tying the score. Neamonitis stopped 26 of 28 shots to get his first collegiate win.
“Concordia really came to play,” Boeser said. “I don’t think we played a complete game. Bottom line, Concordia just wanted it more.”
Saturday’s loss followed a win over the Cobbers on Friday night. It was the fourth time this season that St. Thomas has split two games against the same opponent.
With the loss, the Tommies fall to 10-7 on the season, 5-3 in the MIAC. They face Hamline next weekend in an important two-game series.
Ryan Shaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org