MCHA, MIAC and NCHA weekend wrap: Jan. 31

With a win and a tie over St John’s, Concordia (Minn.) streaked into second place behind No. 11 Hamline in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The three points earned sets up a battle between the MIAC’s second and third place teams, as the Cobbers (9-8-4, 5-3-4) host Gustavus Adolphus (11-6-2, 5-3-2) on Friday and Saturday. The Gusties were idle this weekend.
Goals by Jared Collen and Caleb Suderman rescued a 2-2 tie for Concordia, which fell behind 2-0 to the visiting Johnnies on Saturday. St. John’s Conor Rooney and Grant Ellena opened the scoring.
The tie extended the Cobbers’ unbeaten streak to five games (4-0-1).
“We had kind of marked January 14 as a point where we wanted to be hitting our stride,” Concordia Coach Chris Howe said. “We played well (in a 3-0 loss) against St. Thomas on that Friday and then we played really well (in a 3-2 win over the Tommies) on Saturday, and we’ve been pretty good since.
“So our team feels we are where we want to be at this point of the year.”
On Friday, Ben Payne’s goal 2:20 into overtime gave Concordia its fourth straight win in the series’ opener against St. John’s. Again, the Cobbers erased a two-goal deficit, as Aaron Wheeler and Dave Velich grabbed goals. Velich’s marker tied the contest at 2-2 with 7:28 left in regulation.
Tobias Linbro and Rooney scored for the Johnnies, who led 2-0 going into the third period. The OT victory was the Cobbers’ second this season, which is in stark contrast to the team’s previous extra-time forays. The Cobbers’ 3-2 victory over St. Olaf on Nov. 20 was the team’s first OT win in four seasons as team was 0-4-7 during that time (2006 to 2010).
Friday’s victory over St. John’s marked Howe’s first as Cobbers coach. The team was 0-5-1 against the fourth-year coach’s alma mater. Howe also served as assistant coach at St. John’s for five seasons prior to taking the Concordia post in 2008.
More importantly, the team has discovered a way to win one-goal games, said Howe, who put the trend on par with a golfer finding the right stroke.
“We learned how to play to win one-goal games,” Howe said. “(After the St. Thomas victory), we were able to watch ourselves on tape play with the energy and the passion you need to win tight games.
“We have been able to repeat that swing as you would in golf. We’ve been able to find a swing we can repeat now.”
Missed opportunity
With a pair of one-goal losses, Wisconsin-Superior missed a golden opportunity to gain ground on No. 2 St. Norbert, which was held to a 3-3 draw by Wisconsin-Eau Clare on Saturday.
The draw gives the Green Knights (17-3-1, 11-2-1) a five-point lead in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association standings heading into the final month of regular-season play. The Yellowjackets (12-8-1, 9-5) dropped 1-0 results to Wisconsin-River Falls and Wisconsin-Stout in consecutive days.
On Friday, UW-Superior was seven seconds away from earning a tie when Geoff Shewmake scored to give visiting UW-River Falls (9-11-1, 5-9) the overtime victory. Falcons freshman goalie Scott Lewan made 32 saves to earn his second career shutout.
The Yellowjackets’ goal drought continued Saturday, as Charles Lachance’s first period goal turned out to be the game-winner for visiting UW-Stout (12-9, 7-7). Blue Devils’ netminder Tom Lescovich turned away all 37 UW-Superior’s shots on goal.
Despite only surrendering two goals in two games, Yellowjackets freshmen goaler Drew Strandberg was tagged with the losses.
Assist aces
Adrian teammates Shawn Skelly and Mike Dahlinger are neck-and-neck in a race to become Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association’s career assist leader. Dahlinger leads with 86; Skelly has 85.
Skelly set the career helper mark with his 83rd and 84th league assists in the No. 8 Bulldogs’ 6-1 trouncing of visiting Finlandia Friday. Skelly surpassed Finlandia’s Josh Paquette, who posted 83 career assists from 2004 to 2008.
On Saturday, Dahlinger had three assists in Adrian’s 9-2 win over the struggling Lions to leapfrog over his teammate. Skelly had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s game.
Overall, Skelly has 117 career assists to Dahlinger’s 99 when including nonleague play.
Coach Ron Fogarty doesn’t want career achievements overshadowing the task at hand, though.
“I want those guys to shoot,” Adrian coach Ron Fogarty told the Adrian Telegram. “When you have a record like that, it gets in your mind that you’re going to pass to try to obtain it. That’s the wrong way to play the game. If you have an opportunity to shoot, you better be taking that shot.”