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Lindenwood edges Waldorf in regional opener

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. – Lindenwood University ended the Waldorf College hockey team’s season by capturing a 2-1 victory during the opening round of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Central Region Tournament on Saturday.

“The guys gave it everything they had,” Waldorf coach Brett Shelanski said. “They left it all out there.”

The Lions (16-13-2), who are ranked No. 5 in the Central Region poll, defeated the No. 8 Warriors (20-15) for the third time this season. Lindenwood swept the final regular-season series, winning by scores of 6-2 and 3-1 on Feb. 6-7 at Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Buddy Napier notched Waldorf’s lone goal in the season-ending loss. The sophomore forward from West St. Paul, Minnesota, finished the year with 23 points behind 12 goals and 11 assists. Senior Jake Taylor and junior Spencer Johnson assisted on the score.

Brendan Roberts and Petrus Sipila delivered goals for the Lions. Tyler Arenz, Mitchell Miller, David Allen and Rasmus Asberg each provided assists.

The Warriors outshot Lindenwood 35-29. Waldorf sophomore Ronald Paulson saved 27 of the 29 shots he faced. Clint Steinmeyer racked up 34 saves against 35 shots for the Lions.

Action remained scoreless until the fourth minute of the second period when Roberts scored the game’s opening goal off passes from Arenz and Miller.

Sipila connected on the game-winning goal eight minutes into the third period during a 5-on-5 situation. Allen and Asberg contributed assists.

The Warriors cut the lead to 2-1 with two minutes remaining in the game as Napier capitalized on a power play. Taylor and Johnson turned in assists on the score.

Lindenwood locked down defensively for the remainder of the contest to shut down any hopes of a Waldorf comeback.

The Lions advance to Sunday’s final round of regional action against No. 9 Michigan State University (11-10-1). Lindenwood, which reached the ACHA Division II National Tournament semifinals last season, would secure a return bid to nationals with a win over the Spartans.

Christian Weber was the lone senior to conclude his career with the Warriors. The forward from Charles City tallied 15 goals and 12 assists to record 27 points throughout the season. Weber, who played five seasons with the team, has made a significant impact on Waldorf’s hockey program since its inception. He was part of a team that clinched a share of the Northern Collegiate Hockey League (NCHL) regular-season championship and went on to claim the inaugural NCHL Tournament title during the 2014-15 campaign. Weber also helped the Warriors earn three straight trips to the regional tournament.

“Christian has meant a great deal to this program,” Shelanski said. “He has had a great college career, was on the inaugural team and helped establish what it means to be a part of Warrior hockey.”

Returning 21 players, including 10 who accounted for 21 points or more this year, Waldorf will rely on its returning core as the Warriors take aim at further success in the 2016-17 season.

“The guys will be motivated going into this offseason,” Shelanski said. “With one graduating senior, there is a tremendous upside for this group.”