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Waldorf shuts out Cardinals in NCHL Tournament quarterfinal

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Following two scoreless periods, the Waldorf College hockey team delivered on offense in the third period to shut out St. Mary’s University in a 3-0 victory during Friday’s Northern Collegiate Hockey League (NCHL) Tournament quarterfinal.

Spencer Johnson racked up three points as he scored two goals and provided an assist to lead the Warriors (20-13), who are ranked No. 10 in the latest American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Central Region poll. Waldorf senior Christian Weber also contributed a goal.

Junior Artem Savelyev turned in two assists for the Warriors, who also received assists from senior Reed Loucks and sophomore Buddy Napier.

Waldorf cruised to a 42-15 shot advantage over the Cardinals (5-18). Sophomore goaltender Ronald Paulson pitched his fifth shutout of the season for the Warriors, stopping all 15 shots in the win. St. Mary’s Leonard Weiss saved 39 of the 41 shots he faced.

The contest remained scoreless through the first 47 minutes of play. Waldorf struck first as Weber scored in the seventh minute of the third period following assists from Johnson and Savelyev.

Johnson converted on a power play, pushing the Warriors to a two-goal advantage with seven minutes left in the game. Napier and Savelyev set up Johnson on the score.

Johnson put the game away as he notched a short-handed, empty-net goal with 65 seconds remaining. Loucks contributed the assist.

Johnson, a junior from Burnsville, Minnesota, leads Waldorf with 29 points on the season behind eight goals and a team-high 21 assists.

The Warriors were strong on the penalty kill, shutting down the Cardinals on all four of their advantages.

With the win, Waldorf advances to Saturday’s NCHL Tournament semifinal against No. 7 Robert Morris University (23-10) at 7 p.m. (EST).

The Warriors, who won 3-1 over Robert Morris in last year’s inaugural NCHL Tournament championship game, split this season’s series with the Eagles on Jan. 29-30 at Albert Lea, Minnesota. Robert Morris prevailed 3-2 in a shootout during the opener, but Waldorf rebounded with a 7-0 victory the following night.

The NCHL Tournament will likely have a significant impact on the postseason for the four remaining teams contending for the conference title and looking to lock up bids to the ACHA Division II Central Region Tournament, set for Feb. 27-28 at Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

In addition to the Warriors and Robert Morris appearing in the regional poll, regular-season NCHL champion and conference newcomer Lewis University (20-6) holds the No. 8 ranking and squares off against No. 12 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (16-6) in Saturday’s other semifinal. Waldorf needs to remain in the top 10 of the final ACHA Division II Central Region poll to qualify for the regional tournament.