Men’s Hockey Opens Season with Two Weekend Wins
The College of St. Scholastica men’s hockey program opened up its 2017-18 season with a pair of wins over the Northland College Lumberjacks on Friday and Saturday night. The first game, which was played in Ashland, Wisconsin on Friday night, was a 3-2 victory in favor of CSS. On the following day, the Saints hosted the Lumberjacks at Mars Lakeview Arena in Duluth and won by a score of 4-1.
The season opener in Ashland didn’t start out too well for the Saints, as they gave up a goal to Northland just ten seconds after the drop of the puck in the first period. Despite the Saints receiving three power play opportunities in the first period, they were unable to capitalize and headed to the locker room down one.
The second period proved to be much better for the Saints, as they received their fourth power play and finally got one past the Northland goalie as freshman Jordan Fralich netted the first goal of his collegiate career off assists from Cole Golka and Kyle Star. Of course, this will be marked as a great memory for Fralich in his first of many goals to come.
“It was definitely a pretty cool feeling,” said Fralich. “It’s always a good feeling to score and the fact we got the sweep on the weekend made it even better.”
With under four minutes remaining later in the period, the Saints took a 2-1 lead off a goal from Dustin Cordeiro. Star once again received some recognition with his second assist in as many goals, and Fralich added to his point total with an assist as well.
The rest of the period didn’t result in much, as the teams skated evenly and entered the final period of play with the score being 2-1 in favor of St. Scholastica. Northland’s Kalib Ford netted the equalizer in the third period with five minutes having run off the clock, tying the game at 2-2.
The Saints earned another power play opportunity moments later, and with 13 minutes remaining in the period Nolan Ross scored the eventual game winner in the opener for the Saints. Kristofer McKinzie and Parker Mismash were credited with assists on the goal to make it 3-2.
Ross expressed his excitement and a bit of information about his game winner.
“We were on the power play, and I set myself up in a position where I could get the puck back door,” said Nolan Ross. “It came to me, and so I tried to put it up top. It’s always a good feeling to score and put the team ahead; I was just pumped to put us in the lead in the 3rd.”
Each team received five power play chances, with the Saints scoring on two of the five and the Lumberjacks being held to zero as the CSS penalty kill performed rather well to earn the 3-2 victory.
The following day both teams met again, this time in Duluth. The Saints struck first, as Seth Chumley netted his first of the year at the seven-minute mark off passes from Kale Derkson and Davis Ross. Northland answered later in the first period with a goal of their own to tie the score at 1-1 heading into the break.
With under a minute having passed in the second period, Chumley netted his second of the game to reclaim the lead for CSS. This time it was Andrew Clark and Ryan Cooper who earned assists on the Chumley goal.
Exactly ten minutes later Parker Weekes tacked on to the CSS lead with a goal of his own to make it 3-1. Mike Nolan and Mark Whiteley each earned their first assists of the year on the goal.
The third period started with a CSS power play, which was converted into a goal by Carson Rose to seal the game for the Saints at 4-1.
When it came to picking between the season opener or home opener in terms of excitement, players felt Saturday’s home opener was much more fun.
“I thought the home game on Saturday was more exciting,” said defenseman Mark Whiteley. “The atmosphere was great, and to see the students and fans come show support for us was definitely exciting to see, especially with the Halloween costumes.”
The importance of the first two wins over Northland were well-known within the locker room.
“We knew both games would be a challenge as they beat us at home last year,” said Nolan Ross. “I’ll give them credit, they played well, but of course it’s nice to get the sweep and start out the year on a positive note.”
“Our expectations are quite high this year, and we needed to come out strong our first weekend of play,” said Whiteley. “It was a huge confidence booster, and to get four points gives us a good start to the season.”
With the two victories, the Saints sit atop the NCHA standings and will host conference foes Aurora and Lake Forest next weekend.