Walking the Walk
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The Beavers remain on top, unscathed in the two-game series versus the #11 University of Oklahoma Bronchos.
Minot, N.D. — Minot State separated the mice from men to show why they are and deserve to sit atop the ACHA; when an opportunity presented itself, MSU buried it. The Beavers outscored UCO 10-0 in two games and senior goaltender Wyatt Waselenchuk remains yet to be scored on at the home ice of the Maysa Arena.
“I was pretty happy with the way we played overall,” said Waselenchuk. “I’m very proud of the guys.”
The victories on Friday and Saturday night put the Beavers’ overall record at 6-0, but there are still a lot of games to play before March. This series against the Bronchos proved to the rest of the ACHA that the Beavers are major contenders in the league for the second year in a row, but furthermore, exposed the opportunity of clenching another banner to the current players. Old feelings crept up in the minds and hearts of the returners and the seed was planted for the longing of that feeling to those new to the program. The historic banner raising on Saturday night put the significance of last year’s achievements into perspective.
“Looking forward, we have to keep pushing,” said junior captain Michael Jordan. “We can’t just say ‘oh, well we won last weekend.’ We have to keep pushing harder and harder every time.”
The scores of both games over the weekend (and last year’s second round game against UCO at nationals) were 5-0 Beavers. MSU couldn’t ask for a more perfect weekend gaining the four points and a pair of shutouts. Defense was key in both games despite a couple of defensive breakdowns.
“The 10 goals; it’s always fun to score goals so everybody had some fun,” said Jordan, “but the important thing is that we weren’t letting any in.”
Despite a sloppy start, MSU found themselves up 2-0 to start the second period on Friday night. The line of Jordan, junior Logan Herauf, and senior Jared McIntosh went into overdrive with Jordan and Herauf tallying goals from defenseman Mitch Peeke, Jordan, and two assists from McIntosh. Forward Josh Rutherford spoke after the first period:
“We made a lot of passes up the middle that we should not be making,” said Rutherford, “and a lot of stupid mistakes. Once we get up top, we’re fine. We just need to make it more crisp.”
The freshmen made an impact for the first time on home ice. Those new to the program only tallied a combined three points last weekend at the Maysa against Briercrest. The young Beavers added two more goals the second period to put the score at 4-0 MSU. Freshmen forwards Cole Olson and Jeremy Johnson found the back of the net with help from freshman Sean Delwo and sophomore Brett Nespor.
Herauf held the lone goal in the third from Jordan to put the game at 5-0. The impressive shutout didn’t come easy; defensemen Peeke and freshman Eric Baldwin sacrificed their bodies to deflect the puck from the pipes and Waselenchuk protected his net with 34 saves in the competition.
“Wyatt played an unbelievable game,” said assistant captain and defenseman Brad Olynyk. “We did have a few defensive breakdowns we can tighten up on, but Wazzy has been out there bailing us out for the last three years.”
Saturday night kicked off with the championship banner raising before puck drop. Former captain Nigel Dube and former assistant captain Garrett Ferguson found themselves in the spotlight as they walked the banner to center ice to be raised to the rafters for all to see.
“As you can see by my smile, [the ceremony] was amazing,” said Waselenchuk with a grin peaking past his usually composed face. “It was a lot of fun to have those guys on the ice that meant so much to our team last year. It was a special moment.”
Dube inspired the program to push itself to the limits through mandatory gym hours, uncompromised leadership, and rewarding community service projects. This was Nigel’s first game watching the Beavers as just a fan.
“It’s a pretty interesting thing,” said Dube. “It’s my first time personally that I haven’t played hockey during the fall. It’s mixed emotions to watch the boys out here but they are seeing a lot of success and that’s all anyone could hope for for them.”
The Beavers flew out of the gate with energy that the Bronchos couldn’t match. MSU found themselves up 3-0 at the end of the first period. Rutherford, senior forward Will Kinsman, and Nespor tallied the goals from Jordan, Johnson, freshman Tanner Mitchell, freshman Dwight Lee, Olson, and Rutherford.
The next two periods, one freshman made himself known. Despite the Bronchos constant and sometimes unsportsmanlike pressure, Johnson added the lone goals in the second and third period to put the final score once again at 5-0 with help from teammates: freshman defenseman Jon Stephenson, Olynyk, and Rutherford with two assists. MSU drew a few calls in the combined 6 penalties of the third period, but contained enough composure to stay out the unnecessary tiffs that gets teams in trouble.
“They were getting a little grindy,” said Johnson. “You don’t want to take the stupid penalties. You just have to stay out [of it]. Work hard, but when the whistle blows, stop.”
Waselenchuk showed everyone watching over the weekend exactly why was the ACHA DI player of the year for the 2012-13 season. He remained strong to finish out Saturday’s game with 27 saves for a combined 61 saves in the series, not allowing a goal.
It was a solid weekend of Beaver Hockey at the Maysa Arena, not to mention the added buzz in the air surrounding alumni weekend. Many parents were in town which made this a truly special weekend. The foundation for the continued growth for this year’s program is being set every practice, every event, and shows itself every game.
“The guys are getting used to playing with each other,” said Jordan.” Tonight you could see the lines starting to mold together.”
However, looking forward head coach Wade Regier sees room for improvement as the Beavers take the show to the road next weekend in Fargo for a matchup with NDSU. “It’s the little things, passes here and there,” said Regier, “and I’d like us to be more physical, just knowing where to be in that.”
The weekend after the Beavers face NDSU, the stands of the Maysa will be filled once again as the Lindenwood Lions hope to take revenge on October 18th and 19th. The Beavers defeated Lindenwood in the championship game to hoist the Murdoch Cup last March. Lindenwood is currently ranked #5 in the second ACHA rankings.
Media Relations Intern
Minot State Hockey