Men’s Hockey Season Comes to an End

Dylan Zimmerman
dzimmerman@css.edu

The College of St. Scholastica men’s hockey team skated off the ice for the final time this winter, falling in the semifinal round of the Harris Cup Playoffs to Adrian College. The teams squared off twice this past weekend, playing each other on back-to-back nights in Adrian, Michigan. The Saints came into the games as underdogs, as many expected the No. 2 team in the nation to handle the Saints quite easily. Scholastica, however, made Adrian work for every minute of every period in the two playoff games.

The first game was played Friday night, and if the Saints had started off on a faster note they could have easily taken game one. The Bulldogs dominated the Saints for the first two and a half periods, as they got out to a 3-0 lead with 11 minutes remaining in the game. Whether it was Adrian thinking they had the game in the bag or the Saints realizing they needed to step it up, the situation of the game changed very quickly.

Keegen Bruce got the Saints on the scoreboard after a goal halfway through the third period. Derek Sutliffe followed up with a clutch short-hander a few minutes later to bring the Saints within one. The rest of the game was a stalemate, as St. Scholastica couldn’t find the equalizer and Adrian couldn’t find any room to put the game away. Adrian finally scored their fourth goal of the game on an empty-netter with 13 seconds left on the clock. Adrian outshot the Saints 38-23 and went on the power play two more times than CSS. The 4-2 loss would put the Saints in a big disadvantage, as they would have to win the next day to force a mini game (tiebreaker).

The second game proved to be much like that of the previous night, as Adrian jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period. With three minutes remaining in the first St. Scholastica’s Sutliffe notched his second goal on the weekend, capitalizing on a CSS power play and beating the Bulldog goalie. It would be the same two Saints scoring on Saturday, as Bruce tied the game at 2-2 in the second period. Bruce would have the lone goal of the second, and the game would stay 2-2 heading into the final period of play.

The game looked as if it was going to head into overtime, that is until Adrian’s Brian Bachnak put one past St. Scholastica’s Tyler Bruggeman to give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead with just under four minutes remaining. The Saints couldn’t find their third goal of the game, and were punished yet again by pulling their goalie as Adrian scored an empty-netter with one second left in the game. The Saints would fall to Adrian 4-2 for the second time on the weekend.

Although the Saints lost both games this weekend, they still think they could have squeezed out a win and advanced further into the tournament.

“I don’t think we played as well as we could have,” said senior defenseman Hunter Bergerson. “It was a tough weekend and that was a good team but I think we as a team had a little more to give.”

CSS finished their season with an overall record of 15-10-3 and another semifinal run in the NCHA playoffs. They say goodbye to eight seniors: Keegan Bruce, Tyler Bruggeman, Justin Krabben, Joel Paiement, Michael Spring, Hunter Bergerson, Dylan Nowakowski, and Rich Coyne. Their careers may
be over, but they will have some great memories to remember it by.

“Having the privilege to play hockey in college with a bunch of really good guys is amazing,” said Bergerson. “Not every hockey player gets lucky enough to play past high school so I’m blessed to have played for this long.”

Bergerson, much like the other seniors on the squad, has had himself quite the career. However, his favorite moment dates all the way back to his first goal at the collegiate level.

“If I had to choose one (favorite moment) it would be scoring my first college goal at St. Mary’s on a breakaway,” said Bergerson.

One of the most successful hockey players to ever suit up in blue and white, Tyler Bruggeman, will also be leaving behind his own legacy. Bruggeman will leave CSS as the all-time wins leader in program history, which sets the bar high for whoever is going to come in and take his place between the pipes. Most eyes will fall upon Peter Megariotis, who played the backup role this year behind Bruggeman.

“I’ve always looked up to Tyler [Bruggeman] since we played against each other in juniors,” said Megariotis. “He’s a great goalie and even better person on and off the ice. Even though I came late into the season we had a strong goalie connection and tried to make each other better in practice everyday. His most wins in CSS history will definitely put some pressure on me to do just as well as him. I hope I can fulfill his legacy to the coaching staff, teammates, and the fans of CSS.”

Megariotis will be working hard this off-season to prepare for another playoff run next year, as will the other CSS skaters.

“Before I go home to California for the summer, Brant Nicklin (goalie coach) and I will get some work done on the ice, brushing up on some details and getting back to game speed,” said Megariotis. “Once I’m home I’ll be doing some summer classes, training off ice and on ice with my goalie coach.”