Vannelli’s OT goal leads men’s hockey team over St. Olaf

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Junior Robbie Vannelli kept the men’s hockey team’s winning streak alive with his sudden-death overtime goal to defeat St. Olaf 2-1 Saturday at home.

Vannelli also scored a power-play goal in the first period, and the Tommies have now won nine consecutive games.

“I just kind of got a rebound out in front on the power play and just tried to get everything on it that I could and snuck in luckily,” Vannelli said.

With both teams scoring in the first period of the game, the Tommies and Oles battled back-and-forth until Vannelli was able to find the net four minutes into sudden-death overtime.

Juniors Travis Baker and Riley Horgan had assists on both of Vannelli’s goals.

“I got a great pass from Riley from the other side and just tried to get a shot through,” Vannelli said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had an overtime win.”

Coach Jeff Boeser said he was in “a little bit of a daze” at the end of the game.

“I didn’t know what the outcome would be,” Boeser said. “(I’m) just really proud of our guys – it’s not always pretty, but they’re just finding a way.”

Freshman goalie Drew Fielding was not too worried when the game went into overtime.

“I felt confident in our team,” Fielding said. “We have a lot of go to players in there and then obviously Robbie came up huge.”

Fielding finished the game with 24 saves, and St. Olaf goalie Ben Leis recorded 31. Fielding is now 7-0 in the net this season.

“Once (St. Olaf) scored was when I really settled in and decided that I…wouldn’t let in any more goals,” Fielding said.

Boeser said the team’s 15-3-2 record is due to hard work. The Tommies practiced at 6:30 a.m. over J-Term.

“Our kids were here every morning – we never had an issue,” Boeser said. “They’re just making those little sacrifices that you really need to have a successful season.

St. Thomas will face Bethel next weekend.

“It seems so far just kind of magical how things are working out,” Boeser said. “We’re very, very happy. They’ll enjoy it this weekend and then back to work to Monday.”

Rita Kovtun can be reached at