Auggie Hockey Gains Victories at Playoff Semifinals

Jacob Willis, staff writer 

Men’s Hockey team on Feb 25 taken by Kevin Healy

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference playoff semifinals could not have gone any better for the Auggie Hockey programs. In front of two packed houses against St. John’s and St. Benedict at the Ed Saugestad Rink on Saturday, Feb. 25, both the men’s and women’s teams secured their spot in the MIAC championship.

First up on Saturday were the Auggie women, who quickly fell behind to the St. Benedict Bennies after giving up two goals in a span of 30 seconds. For a moment, things looked rather bleak for the Auggies. Falling behind by multiple goals that quickly can often be the final nail in the coffin for a team, even if those goals come as early as the first period. That would be it in terms of the Bennies offensive attack, however, as the Auggies would play near perfect defense the rest of the contest and did not give up another goal throughout the game. The game that started as a seemingly easy road to victory for the Bennies quickly turned into a rout for the Auggies. Five straight unanswered goals would be scored by the home team, which would allow the Auggies to cruise to a comfortable 5-2 victory in the semifinal matchup. 

The men’s game was a war of attrition. Gritty defense and physicality dominated the ice in Saturday night’s contest. The Auggies would jump out to a 2-0 lead by the middle point of the second period. The Johnnies would get one back in the early third however, scoring a crucial goal to stay in the game. The first goal for the Johnnies would also be their last, as Augsburg sophomore goaltender Samuel Vyletelka would go on to shut out the Johnnies for the rest of the game. The Auggies would score one more time in the third period to take the 3-1 victory, earning them a spot in the MIAC championship. 

With the two victories from the men’s and women’s programs over the weekend, both are set to compete for the MIAC championship on March 4. The Auggie women will play a top ranked Gustavus squad; however, it’s worth noting that while the Gusties have only lost three games this season, one of those losses came at the hands of the Auggies. The men will get a rematch against the team that beat the Auggies in overtime to claim the regular season title: St. Scholastica. This matchup provided lots of fireworks the last time around, and we can expect the championship game to be no different. Should the Auggies claim victory in those MIAC Championship games, the next step down the road will be the first round of the Division III NCAA  playoffs. For both the men’s and women’s squads, playing on the big stage would be nothing new, and 2023 could quite possibly end up being a historic year for Augsburg Hockey.