Oh MIAC, How We’ve Missed You…
I’ll try not to beat a dead horse by going into details about the MIAC suffering through its contests against its NCHA foes. At least it was closer this time around.
“The NCHA is having a great year,” St. Olaf coach Sean Goldsworthy said. “I think if you look across our league we’ve kind of gotten it taken to us by them and the league is older and I really believe that they’ve added some high-end recruits and they’re deep … they’re winning the series in inter-league play because they’re clearly more physical and they’re stronger and they’re deeper.”
But that is done and gone and now the teams return to face familiar foes in the final stretch of the conference season. While only one team — Gustavus Adolphus — has an overall record above .500, who’s to say there isn’t a Cinderella story waiting in the wings?
“What I think is deceiving is that the Wisconsin state league is really deep and very talented this year,” Goldsworthy said. “But the facts are only one or two teams are going to come out of that league in postseason and I think whoever emerges themselves as the conference leader in the MIAC is going to be surprise when it comes to postseason because they’ve played everybody at that point and if you can emerge and be the NCAA participant out of the MIAC I think you can surprise some people with potentially, a .500 record. But clearly there are four or five teams in the MIAC that could represent the MIAC quite well on the national scene.”
While there are still between 10 and 12 conference games for each team remaining on the schedule, I couldn’t help but be reminded of St. Olaf’s late-season surge that ended with a one-goal loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
A year ago, the Olies were 1-3-2 (depending on how you want to interpret the loss to Bethel that was ruled a win by some because of a forfeit) through six conference games.
Entering the postseason, the Olies were 10-9-5 overall and finished third in the MIAC. All it took was a pair of wins over St. John’s and St. Thomas on the road — I make that sound like just a minor inconvenience — and St. Olaf was dancing.
This season, the Olies are 3-1-2 in conference play and in a tie for second, but just 4-9-2 overall, with a crucial series against MIAC-leading Gustavus this weekend.
“Every weekend you gotta find a way to get some points,” Goldsworthy said. “And it doesn’t seem to matter where the teams are at in the standings when we play Gustavus, they’re always one-goal games and it’s going to be who can make a couple big plays and who can get some really strong goaltending for the whole entire weekend.”
As for whether or not his team can be that Cinderella story again this season, Goldsworthy said if his team stays healthy and gets good goaltending, it could find its glass slipper once again.
Player of the Week
Only Gustavus was able to get a pair of wins against the NCHA this weekend, beating Wisconsin-Eau Claire 4-3 and Wisconsin-Stevens Point 6-3 last weekend. For his efforts over the weekend, Gusties senior forward Mike Hosfield was named MIAC Player of the Week. Hosfield had two goals and three assists over the weekend, including the game-winning tally Friday. He is leading Gustavus in scoring this season with six goals and 10 assists.