St. Olaf’s Alex Meyer broke a 1-1 tie early in the third period, lifting the Oles past St. Thomas 2-1 Saturday afternoon at home.
St. Thomas was tied with Gustavus for the conference lead heading into the game, and the Tommies were looking to take two in a row from St. Olaf after defeating the Oles 5-2 Friday night. But the Oles kept their playoff hopes alive.
“If we took care of business today, they were probably pretty much done,” coach Tom Palkowski said. “We didn’t accept the challenge. We had the opportunity, but didn’t play very well defensively.”
The first period started off aggressively with two Tommie players receiving penalties and both teams shooting 10 shots on goal. Freshman goalie Alise Riedel kept the score tied 0-0, making two highlight-reel saves in the period’s closing minutes.
The aggressive play continued in the second period, with the Tommies taking advantage of their opportunities early. Junior Jamie Tiede scored a big goal with an assist from freshman Maria Bothwell, giving the Tommies momentum.
“It felt great,” Tiede said. “We weren’t doing too hot, so we needed something to lift our spirits a little bit.”
But the celebration was short-lived. St. Olaf answered right back with a goal from senior Meghan Stumf to keep the score tied 1-1 at the end of the second period.
“It was a lack of communication in the [defensive] zone,” Tiede said. “They really [have] to start picking it up and start talking to each other. Overall, we’ve got to have intensity each game.”
In the third period’s opening minutes, St. Olaf scored its second goal when junior Alex Meyer slipped the puck through Riedel’s legs and into the net.
Palkowski said the loss was surprising, especially since it was to a team St. Thomas usually succeeds against.
“It was a little disappointing,” Palkowski said. “A team that we’ve beaten 4-0 and 5-2 earlier this year and last night. When you’ve got a team basically on life support, you’ve got to bear down and put them away early.”
The Tommies are 9-7-2 overall and 8-3-1 in the MIAC. The team will play No. 2 Wisconsin-River Falls at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16 at home.
“They’ve got a very nice team. It’s not the best scheduling for us, but you need to play the games,” Palkowski said. “I think our kids are capable.”
Tarkor Zehn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.