Hockey fairy tale unravels

Hamline’s 2014-2015 men’s hockey season grinds to a halt as the Pipers fall to sixth ranked UW-Stevens Point 2-4 on Saturday, March 21.

Sophomore goalie John Sellie-Hanson defends the net for the Pipers with the Pointers threatening in the defensive zone.

Paul Patane, Senior Reporter

After earning a first round tournament bye for winning the MIAC Championship at St. Mary’s on March 7, Hamline took to the road to play UW-Stevens Point for the second time this season. In a lot of ways, it was David versus Goliath: round two. In their previous meeting back on Jan. 10, the Pipers pulled an upset victory on home ice, 5-4.

Early on, things spun out of control for the Pipers after the Pointers scored a goal less than five minutes into the game. During the sequence that led to the score, Stevens Point induced a five minute major penalty and a ten minute game misconduct, which led to Pipers’ first-year defenseman Jaycob McCombs being disqualified from the game. With junior forward Kevin Novakovich already missing the game due to an upper body injury, Hamline was quickly left short-handed.

Things settled down after the Pipers killed the five minute major penalty before heading into intermission down 0-1. With a 0-2 deficit in the third period, scoring picked up and the Pipers surged back, with goals from first-year defensemen Garrett Schmitz and Kerry McGlynn, which tightened the score to 2-3. Down a goal with time running out, sophomore goalie John Sellie-Hanson was pulled to try and force overtime. However, the Pipers surrendered an empty net goal with less than a minute and a half left in regulation.

Sellie-Hanson was sharp the entire game, finishing with 35 saves. He knew he would need to play calm and at ease if the Pipers were going to have a shot at winning.

“I need to continue to relax and have fun. Play it as another game and not put more pressure on myself,” Sellie-Hanson said before the game.

Head Coach Cory Laylin agrees with Sellie-Hanson’s self-assessment.

“John mentally has been in the zone. We need him to be relaxed,” Laylin said. “When he’s in that state, he plays very well.”

First-year defenseman Mitch Hall thought it would be prudent for the Pipers to stay out of the penalty box if their efforts would translate into a victory. Turns out he was right; Hamline only had two power play opportunities compared to committing 11 minutes worth of penalties.

“We’ve got to stay out of the penalty box. Their [Stevens Point] power play is extremely strong,” Hall said before the game. “They’re a very large team but if we can get pucks behind their defensemen, we’ll be successful.”

The Piper penalty kill unit held up well against the Pointers, but those penalty minutes kept Hamline out of Stevens Point’s zone.

Even though the end result wasn’t what the Hamline hockey team had hoped for, their turnaround is not lost on them after winning only three games in the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons combined.

“It’s surreal. Coming in, this is what we wanted all along. It’s pretty special, especially for the seniors who have been through it all, ” Hall said.

Sellie-Hanson appreciates the success the Pipers had this year, especially winning the MIAC Championship.

“It was pretty much a dream. It’s something you dream of at the start of every season,” Sellie-Hanson said. “Our dream this year was to win the MIAC. It’s kind of a surreal feeling. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks and has been a fun ride.”

Reflecting on the season and winning the MIAC in particular, Laylin likes the overall effort from his squad.

“I was proud of our resiliency. Our guys battle hard to the buzzer every time,” Laylin said.

Hall joins several Pipers in being recognized for outstanding play this season. Junior forwards Charlie Adams and Brandon Zurn were named to the All-MIAC team along with senior defenseman and team captain, Joe Rubbelke. Hall was named to the All-Rookie team.

Hall said being selected All-Rookie reflects well not just on him, but also on his teammates.

“It was a huge honor being voted on that. A lot of it has to do with my teammates and our success,” Hall said.

Sellie-Hanson said he appreciates first-year teammates like Hall stepping up.

“He started out great,” Sellie-Hanson said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch. He makes it look so effortless with all he does.”

Laylin recruited Hall and has seen substantial growth as the season has progressed.

“When Mitch is playing his best, he plays well in the defensive zone,” Laylin said. “He’s more of a complete player when he locks it down in the defensive zone.”

With Rubbelke graduating, it’s up to defensemen like Hall, Schmitz and McGlynn to continue improving if the Pipers want to make another MIAC championship run next season.

The sixth ranked Pointers advance to the semifinals in Ridder Arena at University of Minnesota on Friday, March 27. The winner of that game will play in the National Championship the following night.


In our March 25 issue, some mistakes were made in the editing process of Page 10. A photo of Garrett Schmitz was removed, but the caption remained, while the caption of another photo was removed by mistake. The caption should have read: “Sophomore goalie John Sellie-Hanson wheels in the puck for a save.”