Pipers split weekend series with UW teams

Men’s hockey start the season even, 2-2, with two split series.


Cole Mayer

Pipers’ sophomore goalkeer John Selli-Hanson recorded 23 saves in his win against UW-Stout.

Paul Patane, Reporter

Piper men’s hockey played their first home games of the season last Friday, Nov. 7, and Saturday, Nov. 8. On Friday, the team won 4-2 against UW-Stout. However, the Pipers fell 5-2 against UW-River Falls the next night.

Friday’s Piper goals came from junior forward Kevin Novakovich, first-year forward Tyler Gonzales, first-year defenseman Mitch Hall and junior forward Brandon Zurn. Sophomore goalie John Sellie-Hanson was solid in net with 23 saves.

Offense didn’t come easy against UW-River Falls on Saturday as the Pipers managed to score only two goals. Both goals were scored by first-year forward Brandon Reinholz on the power play.

Reinholz’s first power play goal brought Piper fans to their feet, cheering with excitement.

“We made a nice play on my first one. I took my shot and it went in over the [goalie’s] pad,” Reinholz said.

The power play to set up Reinholz’s second goal came early in the third period to tie the game 2-2.

“They had nobody in the zone and I got in front of the goalie,” Reinholz said.

The Pipers finished the third period by giving up two power play goals and a goal that came from a turnover deep in the Hamline zone. Even though the Pipers gave up five goals, Sellie-Hanson had numerous saves to keep Hamline in the game late into the period.

It was two nights filled with mixed results, much like the previous weekend when the Pipers lost to St. John’s but beat the number five ranked team in the nation, St. Thomas.

Assistant Coach Joe Long thinks it’s up to the upperclassmen to help keep nerves in check and the team balanced as they continue to adapt to first-year Head Coach Cory Laylin’s system.

“It’s really up to the upperclassmen to handle that. They know what it can be like and they need to stay hungry,” Long said.

Long is no stranger to Hamline hockey, having played all four years of his collegiate career for the Pipers. Now he’s back as an assistant working primarily with the forwards as the team tries to increase their offensive output from last season. He’s thrilled to be back and working with Laylin again.

“Hamline feels like a home to me. This is where I want to be and Coach Laylin was an assistant coach when I was here,” Long said.

Long and the other coaches are committed to turning things around.

“Getting pucks in the net, that’s kind of the main thing. You can’t be passing up shots and get caught up in traffic,” Long said.

Novakovich is the Pipers’ leading goal scorer from last season and he’s off to a hot start with three goals in four games played. He notices a difference as he continues to adjust to Laylin’s system.

“It’s a different chemistry [this year], playing with different guys. The new system makes it more fun to watch,” Novakovich said.

Novakovich emphasizes turning the program around is a process and won’t happen overnight.

“I felt like our first game in the new system we were kind of getting used to it. We’ve gotten more comfortable playing with each other. Game-to-game, it’s been completely different,” Novakovich said.

Senior forward Andrew Herbert has a similar take.

“The atmosphere is a lot better. We have a lot of great leaders this year,” Herbert said.

Even though results have been mixed so far, expectations are high as the Pipers look to get back to a winning tradition.

For upperclassmen like Herbert, who has been through a couple tough seasons, going out on a high note is important.

“Being a senior, I really want to make the playoffs and win the MIAC. But we need to take it one day at a time,” Herbert said.

Novakovich is also excited about what the team is capable of this season.

“I think we’re going to surprise teams, but they’re not going to look past us beating St. Thomas. Beating the fifth ranked team in the nation is pretty good. You can feel a more positive attitude and excitement in games and practice,” Novakovich said.

The Pipers travel this weekend as they play UW-Eau Claire on Friday night, Nov. 14, and UW-Superior Saturday night, Nov. 15. The team won’t play in St. Paul again until Friday, Nov. 21, at Drake Arena. They’ll return to Oscar Johnson Arena to play Bethel on Saturday Dec. 6.