Ranking: No. 9 USCHO poll,
Leading scorer: Brian Arrigoni — 19 goals, 17 assists, 36 points
Starting Goaltender: Beau Christian — 14-3-3, 2.39 goals-against, .912 save-pct.
Coach: Scott Bell (sixth season)
Hamline folks have reason to feel confident heading into the NCAA tournament this week.
For one, the Pipers have beaten both Wisconsin-Superior and St. Norbert during the regular season. Ninth-ranked Hamline travels to No. 13 UW-Superior for an NCAA first round game Wednesday. The winner advances to face No. 1 St. Norbert in the NCAA quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Pipers knocked off St. Norbert, 4-3, on Nov. 5 and beat the Yellowjackets, 4-1, on Jan. 7. Coach Scott Bell is bullish on his Pipers for other reasons.
In senior defenseman Chris Berenguer, the team has a three-time All-American who is “the best player to play at Hamline,” Bell says. “There’s not even a doubt about that.”
Netminder Beau Christian is focused on eclipsing the school’s all-time win mark and he’s only a junior. Upfront, Brian Arrigoni has put together an All-American season, Bell says.
Arrigoni netted three goals as the Pipers earned passage to the NCAA tournament by clipping a surging Concordia (Minn.) team, 5-2, in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship final Saturday.
“I don’t know where (Arrigoni) falls in with the other (All-American candidates), but as far as value to our team, he is our hardest hitting forward and he’s our most dynamic forward,” Bell says about his leading scorer. “He brings a lot of things to the table, and in the championship game, he scores a hat trick.”
Other scorers have also stepped up when needed, especially when Hamline’s needed a clutch goal to salvage a point in games the team was trailing in.
Jordan VanGilder’s third period goal rescued a 4-4 tie at St. Olaf on Dec. 4 while Kirk Olimb’s tally forged a 4-4 draw at St. Scholastica on Jan. 8. Against Bethel, VanGilder struck for a goal with 18 seconds left in regulation to preserve a 4-4 tie at Jan. 15.
Those gritty performances have defined the Pipers as much as victories over nationally-ranked teams Milwaukee School of Engineering (4-1 on Jan. 1) and St. Norbert.
The team’s self-belief hasn’t wavered since the season’s start.
“We felt we had a good team,” Bell says. “We’re as good as any team in the country and we are ready to roll.”