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. . Women's hockey skates onto the scene, loses inaugural games

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By Jason Welle
Staff Writer
Friday, November 10, 2000

Head coach Tom Osiecki will take the reins, hoping to guide Ole women's hockey into a strong program that will remain competitive for years to come. Osiecki, a St. Paul native, coached boy's hockey at Burnsville High School for 24 years, served as an NHL scout for the Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars for five years, and then returned to coach girls' hockey at Burnsville for three years.

A member of the Minnesota High School Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame, Osiecki will provide the discipline and winning drive necessary to get the maiden St. Olaf program off and skating in its first campaign.

"It's hard to know where to begin when stepping into a brand new program," said Osiecki. "We just don't have much experience."

The experience St. Olaf does have comes from players on its club hockey team, elevated to varsity status this year. Seniors Nadia Nickerson and Leslie Taylor captain the squad. Along with senior Allison Lofton, this core will provide leadership for the growing program.

"They're the ones that made this all possible," said Osiecki. "This team is a tribute to all the people that have played club hockey for years and years, hoping someday they'd get a chance at a varsity team."

The team will play a tough schedule of MIAC and Wisconsin schools with well-established women's hockey programs. "It's tough to set too many goals as far as wins and championships," explained Osiecki. "We don't have the experience to gauge things along those lines. But this should be a great season for us; we'll grow together as players and as people."

Since Augsburg College became the first Minnesota team to offer women's hockey eight years ago, other schools in the MIAC have been quick to follow suit, currently yielding a ten-team league as tough as any in the country.

"The MIAC will be as strong as any Division III conference in the nation, because of both the length of time teams have been around and the number of teams," said Osiecki.

The Oles opened their season at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point last weekend, losing by scores of 6-1 and 4-2. The Pointers are also a new varsity team, as the two squads met in their inaugural contest Friday night. Stevens Point jumped out to a big lead from the first face off, scoring four goals in the first period to take a 4-0 advantage into the first break. Nickerson scored the first goal in St. Olaf women's varsity hockey history at 8:54 in the second period, a power play shot that brought the score to 4-1.

The Pointers' offense was just too much, though, as they tacked on one more goal in each of the final two periods to yield the 6-1 final score. The Pointers outshot the Oles 48-12 for the contest. Sophomore Amanda Chumbley took the loss in the goal, stopping 42 of the 48 shots she faced.

The Oles came out much stronger on Saturday night. Sophomore Sarah Ray opened the scoring at 10:03 in the first to give St. Olaf a 1-0 lead. Taylor later extended that advantage, scoring a Nickerson-assisted goal near the close of the period to give the Oles a 2-0 edge at the break.

Despite the two goal advantage, Stevens Point outshot the Oles 16-7 in the first period and the Pointer offense seemed sure to break through eventually. The Pointers scored three goals in the second period and one in the third to end St. Olaf's hopes of picking up a win in their opening series. Chumbley again took the loss, saving 40 of the 44 Pointer shots on goal.

The Ole women will be opening their conference season this weekend against Saint Mary's University. Friday, the Cardinals come to Northfield for a 7 p.m. game in the Structure, and then the Oles travel to St. Mary's for a 7:05 p.m. contest on Saturday. Though this season might be a difficult one, a traditionally successful Osiecki expects prosperity to come soon.

"We don't have a recruited player on campus right now. Within two years we'll have a very good team."

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