MSOE faces ups and downs early in the season

 (Eric Durant)

A typical day for a Milwaukee School of Engineering Raider starts in the classroom, and then they could be designing and testing mechanical devices for a real-life client before heading to the rink for a grueling practice. The rest of the evening is spent doing homework. Ah, what a life.

In conversations I have had with Mark Ostapina, who is in his 12th season as coach at MSOE, he has had nothing but stellar remarks about his team and their work in the classroom.

One particular standout for Ostapina is senior forward and team captain Brad Tierney. The Edmonton, Alb., native was drawn to the Milwaukee School of Engineering for many reasons.

“I knew I wanted to go to school and play hockey, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study,” Tierney explained, “When I came to visit MSOE, I knew it was a good school with a respected engineer program. It was just a good fit.”

Tierney has notched 88 points so far in his Raiders career, coming from 32 goals and 56 assists. The forward led the Raiders in points (9-17-26) in his rookie campaign, and has repeatedly been a point producer for his team. It seems fitting that Tierney leads by example for his two freshmen linemates, Cody Gonchar and Evan Wilson, who have each tallied nine points so far this season.

The Raiders, who have been a power team in the MCHA, hit a short stint of adversity early this season. It started with a loss to Finlandia in early November, followed by a sweep coming from conference rivals Adrian.

MSOE beat Adrian to win the 2011-12 MCHA Championship and spoil the Bulldogs’ run at the NCAA tournament, while MSOE made the tournament for the first time in program history.

“Adrian is a huge rivalry; I’ve kind of grown in the program knowing that they are the team we want to beat,” Tierney said, “Beating them last year was huge. Going in their rink is extra pressure, and they are a tough team to beat.”

The Raiders haven’t let their November slump get them down. They snapped their losing streak over Thanksgiving weekend with a nonconference sweep of Bethel.

They continued their unbeaten ways as they fought to a 1-1 tie and a 2-1 victory at Lake Forest last weekend.

“Going on the unbeaten streak is huge and gets us going on a roll,” Tierney said, “We aren’t scoring as much as we want to be, but we’re improving.”

MSOE will want to continue its winning ways this weekend, as it is playing in the only conference series in the league. The Raiders will face Marian (6-2-0) in a home-and-home series. They sit just three points behind Marian in the standings, and are looking for a big four-point weekend.

“We need the points this weekend; the points are huge in this conference,” Tierney said.

There was a bit of a shake-up in the standings this week. Marian’s four points earned after sweeping Northland gave it a boost in the standings and a firm second place spot with 12 points. Concordia dropped two spots, unable to get a point from the weekend at Adrian. Lawrence earned a sweep of Finlandia with 6-3 and 5-2 scores. MSOE and Lake Forest battled to a 1-1 tie on Friday night before MSOE won, 2-1, on Saturday.

Adrian remains the team to beat this season, holding a 9-0-0 conference record. The Bulldogs are leading the nation with an average of 6.0 goals per game, and are one of two teams that holds an unbeaten and untied record; Norwich is the other.

Bulldogs rookie Shaq Merasty has nine goals this season and is tied as national goal scoring leader after his two tallies in Friday’s win.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming into this season,” Shaq Merasty said, “Coach said I would be given a chance to fight for a top six forward position and on the power play, and the puck as just been going in for me.”

The MCHA honored three freshmen in their weekly awards.

Lawrence University’s rookie forward Logan Lemirande earned MCHA Player of the Week honors after a 2-5-7 scoring line on the weekend, helping the Vikings sweep Finlandia.

Freshman goalie Nick Kohn stopped 58 of 60 shots over the weekend to help the MSOE Raiders go 1-0-1 against Lake Forest, earning MCHA Defensive Player of the Week accolades.

The MCHA Freshman of the Week was awarded to Marian’s Brett Campbell, who had a 2-3-5 scoring line, as the Sabres swept Northland.