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Devastating sweep slows Pipers

Two early losses to St. Thomas deals setback to promising Piper season.

Lindsay LaMoore, Copy Editor

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Sunday morning’s snowfall felt extra cold on the already stinging cheeks of Hamline men’s hockey team. The previous two nights saw a pair of losses scourge the Pipers’ then 6-1-2 record with an unexpected sweep.

Tallying up the two L’s was not something Head Coach Cory Laylin expected out of last weekend’s tilt against St. Thomas.

“We’ve had success against them two years ago,” Laylin said. “We had an underdog feeling [then] and guys were hungry…It isn’t hard to get guys ready to go against St. Thomas.”

Friday’s home game had a rough start, with the Pipers drawing two penalties for slashing before the first five minutes had ticked off the clock. With junior defenseman Jesse Kessler’s shot ringing off the goal pipe, the first period was reigned in with no goals on the board and the puck largely on Tommie sticks.

“We have to play hard when we don’t have the puck,” Laylin said. “The defensemen have to keep the game simple and help out the goalie.”

Senior defenseman Nick Sova agreed. “When you have the puck generally as a hockey player, you’re more excited. Defense is the hard work,” he said.

The Pipers found defense to be difficult Friday. The puck dropped in the second on a Tommie stick and quickly found the net twice: two goals beat sophomore goaltender Justin Quale only 13 seconds apart within the first minute of the period. But penalties on both sides of the ice paved the way for a Piper goal by senior forward Brandon Wahlin.

“They’re a good team,” Laylin said of St. Thomas. “They’re deep and very skilled so we have to be on our A game.”

The Pipers were looking to do just that in the third on Friday, but a UST goal with under two minutes remaining stifled the Pipers’ chance at a regulation win. In a last-second effort by junior forward Jaycob McCombs, the Pipers tacked another goal on the board, but the buzzer sounded before the Pipers could tie for overtime. The final score: 2-3.

“I think that we played well,” Sova said. “St. Thomas is a good team, too; have to give credit where credit is due.”

Unfortunately for the Pipers, Saturday saw St. Thomas cash their credit in once again. With a goal less than a minute after the puck hit the ice to start the first period on Tommie territory and another goal before five minutes had passed, the Pipers had to play catch-up. The Pipers managed to keep pace with St. Thomas, scoring two goals of their own in the first period.

In the second, a pair of coincidental penalties for roughing and grasping the facemask and another against the Pipers set up the Tommies up for a power play goal. The Pipers responded, tying it 3-3 for what would be the last time that game.

“We worked hard,” Sova said. “There were times where we were much better than St. Thomas and it showed, it was obvious. But you know hockey; a few bounces and all of a sudden they’re up by one goal.”

The Tommies snuck two past senior goaltender John Sellie-Hanson to take a 3-5 lead before the third. Despite the Pipers’ winning 16 faceoffs in the final period, UST scored a sixth goal and, even with another last-second goal, the Pipers fell to the Tommies 4-6.

“This is a learning experience for us,” Sova said. “We haven’t dealt with adversity like this yet this season…It’s easy to dwell on the sweep, but we have to take it as fuel for next week. We have a lot of time to prepare for Eau Claire.”

As the snow keeps falling, the Pipers prepare for their home game against UW-Eau Claire on Dec. 9 at 7:00 p.m.

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Devastating sweep slows Pipers