This Week In The MIAC: Dec. 1, 2006

The biggest thing to happen in the MIAC last weekend was St. John’s 2-1 loss to Hamline on Friday. It was the Pipers’ first win against the Johnnies since Jan. 26, 2001 when they won 2-1 in what turned out to be the last win of their season. They only had seven all year.

“It was one of those things,” coach John Harrington said. “They played well and got a timely goal in the third period there and beat us 2-1.”

Harrington felt part of it had to do with St. John’s not having a lot of confidence in its offense after scoring three goals in its past four games, all of which were losses.

But the Johnnies showed no signs of a hangover on Saturday and had plenty offense in their 7-2 win thanks to four unanswered goals to close out the game.

“I would like to think that what happened the next day was more than the rule and the first day was an exception but we’ll have to play for a few more games to see if it is,” Harrington said.

Still, it’s the loss that stands out from last weekend. But Harrington said the loss had nothing to do with his team not coming out ready to play.

“I don’t think at any time this season in any of our seven games that we haven’t come to play,” Harrington said. “We’ll be ready to play, that’s one thing we’ve always been able to do. Now if that equates to scoring a certain number of goals that remains to be seen.”

The Johnnies had another game last week, beating Gustavus Adolphus 3-1 on Tuesday. Andy Cook got his first start of the year in goal for the Johnnies, picking up the nonconference victory and earning himself some more playing time. Harrington said Cook and Vince Wheeler will likely split time this weekend.

This weekend, St. John’s hosts St. Mary’s for a pair of games. And unlike in years past, it’s not a guaranteed four points for the Johnnies. The Cardinals have only won a pair of games this season, including one over Northland, but Harrington knows they aren’t going to lay down for St. John’s.

“St. Mary’s, they’re like any other team in our league, they’re battling for respectability,” he said. “They’re going to be tough and we can’t look over anybody and we haven’t. We haven’t done that with any team we’ve played this year, we’ve played very hard, but it needs to equate to production too.”

On the other side of the rink, St. Mary’s enters the game after a loss and a tie to Augsburg last weekend, and a win over Northland on Tuesday.

Coach Don Olson said there are many ways to look into St. John’s loss to Hamline including that the loss may have been a possible wake-up call for the Johnnies. But he said he wasn’t surprised to see the Pipers win because of the parity in the league, but the fact the remains, the Cardinals will have to be at the top of their game to pick up some points.

“They look a little less imposing (than in years past) but they’re very talented and they’ve got a great tradition that they’ve built,” he said. “So we certainly know we’re going to have to be at the top our game to be competitive.”

Junior forward Adam Gill has been at the top of his game so far this season netting six goals and four assists in seven games to lead St. Mary’s. But the key for the Cardinals will be goaltending.

Junior Dan Smith had his shoulder pop out of place a couple of times against Augsburg, but Olson said Smith had his shoulder looked at and he’ll be playing this weekend. But, because it’s an injury that can become very serious very quickly, Olson said he’s glad he has senior Nick Berra backing up Smith.

“Dan is playing better than our other goalies. Dan’s our number one guy right now,” he said. “But we’re comfortable with Nick being around the program for four years.”

Berra is just one of a handful of seniors on St. Mary’s roster so for the Cardinals to remain competitive, some of their younger players are going to have to step up.

Olson said he thinks his team has been improving each week and will be competitive this season.

“We feel certainly that we can play with anybody,” Olson said. “It’s just a matter of if we can put everything together on a given night.”


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