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St. Olaf Hockey struggles at home

ice rink

On Jan. 4, both St. Olaf hockey teams opened their seasons in the new $8 million ice arena. Later, on Jan. 19, the grand opening of the arena commenced with a pregame ceremony. The new complex, connected to Skoglund Center, includes a National Hockey League size rink, 804 chairs for viewing and locker rooms for various St. Olaf athletic teams. Furthermore, the arena offers great access for both students and faculty to watch the school’s hockey teams without leaving campus. However, both the men’s and women’s hockey teams struggled in their new home before wrapping up their seasons Feb. 16. The teams combined for a record of 0-13-3 in the brand new facility.

Overall, the men’s team finished with a record of 5-17-2 which included a stretch of 7 losses out of 8 games near the end of the season. With a 3-11-2 record in conference, the men finished with 12 points and in 9th place in the MIAC. The team’s conference wins came against Gustavus, Hamline and Bethel, mixed in with a non-conference win against UW-Superior and a victory over Hamline in a showcase game that did not count toward the conference standings.

The team graduated 10 seniors this February – they were honored Feb. 16 before a 2-1 loss to St. Mary’s.

St. Olaf’s leading scorer was junior defenceman Roshen Jaswal ’20 with 13 points. Across 21 games, Jaswal tallied two goals to go along with 11 assists. Tyler Bump ’22, Chris Koziel ’19 and Mitch Dolter ’22 all tied for the team’s lead of five goals throughout the season. In the net, Noah Parker ’20 led the team with a .919 save percentage and averaging only 3.16 goals against.

Meanwhile, the St. Olaf women’s team finished with an overall record of 0-22-3 and a conference record of 0-15-3. The three ties came against St. Benedict, St. Catherine and Bethel. Seniors Kalli McCullen ’19 and Xandi Swedberg ’19 tied for the team lead in points with 12. McCullen topped the team in goals with six. In addition to compiling the most assists on the team with seven, Swedberg earned Honorable Mention MIAC honors. Goaltender Sam Klemann ’20 paced the team with a .902 save percentage and 3.73 goals against average in 14 games.

On St. Olaf’s Senior Day, February 9, seven seniors were honored before a 4-4 tie against Bethel that included McCullen recording a hat trick. This hat trick was McCullen’s first. This performance garnered a selection to Women’s team of the week. She was the second St. Olaf player to be selected this season.

At the end of the frustrating season, women’s coach John Bazzachini chose to step down after 14 years. Over those 14 seasons, Bazzachini won 112 games, including 75 MIAC contests. Under his direction, the team made the conference playoffs six times and finished second in the regular season on two separate occasions. Currently, a search is underway to find Bazzachini’s successor.

While it is disappointing to see the teams struggling in the new arena, surely, next season, the winless curse will be broken and both teams will settle into their new home. Bringing ice home this past year will also serve as a great recruiting tool in building successful teams for the future. As one of the few teams with a rink on campus, St. Olaf has set itself apart from other MIAC hockey programs.

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