Hamline expected to be on top in MIAC

In two-time All American defenseman Chris Berenguer, the Pipers have one of the best players in D-III hockey. Statistics alone speak volumes about his hockey abilities.

Berenguer led MIAC defensemen in scoring with six goals and 22 assists last season, which followed a sophomore season when he produced a team-leading 14 goals and 25 assists for 39 points. So far, he’s scored four goals and three assits in four games this season.

“He’s the best player in the school’s history,” said Pipers coach Scott Bell about the 6-foot-2 and 205-pound defenseman and son of former Minnesota Twins relief ace Juan Berenguer. “It’s nice to have him here. It makes me a better coach with him on our team, that’s for sure.

“He’s poised, in control, and confident — he has all those intangibles — and he’s very talented.”

Berenguer’s abilities augment what is a deep Hamline squad, which was picked by coaches to win the league title this season.

Offensively, winger Brian Arrigoni joins Berenguer as having one of the hardest shots on the team. His laser-like attempts on goal led Arrigoni to a team-leading 30 points on 10 goals and 20 assists last campaign.

“He’s one of the more dynamic forwards in our league,” said Bell about Arrigoni, who the coach said is also underrated as a physical player. “He does a lot of things extremely well and he’s a handful.”

The Pipers were giving teams a handful this season. The team knocked off St. John’s and St. Olaf in the MIAC Showcase Oct. 29-31 while also taking down Northern Collegiate Hockey Association preseason title favorite St. Norbert, 4-3, on Nov. 5.

The 3-0 start made the 5-1 thumping by University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point the next night particularly jarring.

Freshman netminder Matt Hemingway (Owatonna NAHL), who started in three of the team’s first four games, took the loss. Otherwise, the Alexandria, Minn., native has been a revelation, with a stellar 2.34 goals-against average and .917 save-percentage.

Hemingway’s emergence has allowed incumbent goalie Beau Christian to ease back into action after undergoing off-season hip surgery. Despite the nagging injury, Christian went 16-5-3 last season with a 2.43 GAA and .907 save-percentage last season.

“Beau played exceptional considering his physical state,” Bell says. “I would expect Beau to have a real big year for us based on him being healthy and recharged and ready to go.”