Pipers look to finish the season on the ice strong after hot streak

Isaac Roy, Sports Reporter

After a tough 3–6–1 season with several low scoring affairs and close defeats, Hamline’s men’s hockey team bounced back when they needed to most. The cold streak on the ice snapped after a tough series in Moorhead as they were outscored 8–4 by the Cobbers. 

Since then the Pipers have turned the tables and gone 9–3 with some memorable tight bouts and overtime victories. They opened up the tear with two statement victories way out at Finlandia University going into the winter break. 

The victories would continue to pile up when the Pipers returned to the ice in January but they did not come as easy. In the span of eight days, the Pipers battled against three separate University of Wisconsin schools, defeating them all in overtime fashion. 

Sadly the hot streak came to an end by the hands of St. Johns, as they defeated Hamline 6–3 on home ice. The second game of the series moved to TRIA rink where the Pipers took care of business and then some against a sixty minute bombardment from the Johnnies offense. In total St. Johns amassed an incredible 49 shots in three periods compared to just 14 from Hamline. 

“We knew St. Johns was gonna make a big push in the third, which they did,” senior Kevin Lake said. “But we were really confident in the way we were playing so we were never really nervous.” 

Despite this, the Pipers cruised by the Johnnies with a 4–1 victory behind a historic 48 save shutout by Lake. Lake has been a much needed wall for Hamline all season long with a .923 save percentage and has allowed only 2.52 goals on average this season. 

“Lake has been amazing and he gives us the chance to win every night,” Head Coach Shane Wagner said. 

There are now only four games remaining this season after an impressive sweep over the Gusties last weekend. All four matches left are against MIAC opponents. The Pipers will look to flip the script as they have gone an underwhelming 3–8 versus MIAC schools this season.

“Everything is a must win and every game is the biggest game of the year,” Wagner said. “Now that we believe and know what it takes, we are confident that we can do it.” 

Despite increasing levels of success the Pipers have not changed much of their process behind the scenes and have found success by the locker room culture of the club. Wagner is extremely proud of his players’ work off the ice and mentioned the team working out at 6 a.m. several times a week in the preseason to prepare. Wagner also noted that the men’s hockey had a higher semester GPA than any other men’s team. 

No matter the outcome of this season, the Pipers have made remarkable strides in the offseason to give the program a chance at finishing with a winning record. While finishing with just a winning record is never the end goal for any team’s season, it was something that seemed very unlikely after a forgettable 4–18–4 record under Wagner’s first full season as head coach just one year ago.