Men’s Hockey Splits Weekend Opener

Dylan Zimmerman

The College of St. Scholastica men’s hockey team traveled to the neighboring state of Wisconsin for back-to-back days of competition to open up their 2016-17 campaign. They ended up splitting their two games, heading back to Duluth with a 1-1 record before their first home game. The first game of the weekend featured the No. 12 team in the nation, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons.

The first period wasn’t pretty for St. Scholastica in terms of shots on goal. The Saints were only able to muster two shots on target, while the Falcons managed to fire 11 at CSS senior goaltender Peter Megariotis. Megariotis, in his second official start as a Saint, remained solid in-between the pipes by stopping all 11 shots to keep the game scoreless after the first period horn sounded.

The second period featured all the scoring for the night. The Saints struck first just two minutes into the period when Steven Phee capitalized on a power play opportunity to give CSS their first goal of the season. Assisting on the goal was Brandon Millin and Mark Whiteley. The Falcons answered back five minutes later with a goal from Joe Drapluk to tie the game up at 1-1. In the back-half of the second period is where the Saints would regain the lead, as Derek Sutliffe beat UW-RF goalkeeper Alex Okicki with seven minutes remaining to put CSS back in the lead.

The third and final period was rather quiet, as neither team found any rhythm on the offensive side and the game ended as it did at the end of the second period, 2-1 in favor of CSS.

Terrific goalie play was the major key to the St. Scholastica victory, as Megariotis managed to record 31 saves in the win. Despite being outshot, the Saints did enough to leave River Falls with a W.

“The victory over UW-River Falls on Friday night was exactly the type of win that we needed to start our season,” said freshman defenseman Max Mettler. “The rankings are just a number so we went out there and played our game. We were heavily outshot, but showed resilience and made the most of our opportunities.”

The win also proves that CSS is ready for anyone on their schedule this year, which always features tough teams from the NCHA (National Collegiate Hockey Association) conference.

“We did a great job this weekend and I think we showed ourselves and the league what we are able to do this year,” said senior defenseman Kyle Beaulieu. “Beating River sends the statement that we have the potential to do some pretty amazing things this year. I thought the team did an excellent job of handling their nerves of the season opener and dialed in to play a full sixty minutes of hockey.”

The Saints then packed their bags and traveled to Menomonie, Wisconsin for a matchup against the University of Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils the following day.

Once again, the first period would remain scoreless. The shot differentiation wasn’t as bad as the previous night, however, as CSS only trailed Stout by two shots on goal after one.

The second period featured a goal from each team. The first of the night was scored by Stout’s Riley Colvard on a power-play opportunity early on in the period. The Saints weren’t able to answer back until the clock had just five seconds remaining, which is when Max Mettler found Josh Hansen for his first goal of the season to even up the score.

The third period consisted of three goals. The first going to Stout’s Adam Kresl to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 lead. Phee answered back with his second goal on the weekend to tie it up at 2-2. Millin, just as he did the previous night, assisted on Phee’s goal. The defenses of both teams held strong for the next ten-or-so minutes, that is until UW-Stout’s Justin Moody netted the game winner with five minutes remaining in the contest.

Despite the loss, the Saints are looking up and forward to their home opener on the 8th of this month.

“We knew that an undefeated season was not very likely,” said Mettler. “We had our chances, but couldn’t capitalize in that game. All in all, it was a good first weekend of the season and we look forward to our home opener.”

Mettler is one of the rare freshman to score a point within their first two official collegiate games, which makes the 1-1 weekend a bit more sweet than sour for him.

“Derek Sutliffe gave me a nice pass in the slot, I shot and it hit off the goalie’s pad right onto Hanny’s [Hanson] tape,” said Mettler. “I was pretty excited to be able to get my first point as a Saint.”

The home opener will feature none other than the Falcons of River Falls coming into Duluth with a little revenge on their minds. Preparation now doesn’t consist of guessing what the opposing team will do, but rather how to counter what they know they’ll do.

“We have already seen what River has, so we will be practicing ways to exploit their systems,” said Beaulieu. “Practice this week will be a little more competitive because we aren’t able to play games this weekend.”

Expect an intense home opener as both programs will be looking to establish themselves as the better of the two teams. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 8th at Mars Lakeview Arena.