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Men's Ice Hockey Ties Season Opener

By Jason Weintraub
STAFF Reporter

The men's varsity hockey team opened its season Friday night with a 22 tie against visiting Springfield College.

With forward John Rae '99 hitting the post right off the opening face off, it was clear that had MIT come out fired up. Obviously, they were looking for some revenge over this team that had bounced them out of last year's conference playoff.

The MIT-Springfield history does not end there. Last year's regular season contest between the two teams featured some last-second heroics by captain Tetsu Inada '97, which resulted in an Engineer victory.

Unfortunately, with Inada out with a broken wrist, along with Matt Yurkewych '98 and goaltender John Zehren '99, the injury-ridden Engineers were forced to field a relatively inexperienced team on Friday.

The inexperience would show as Springfield dominated much of the first period. However, time and time again Springfield would be denied a goal as MIT netminder Sam Tolkoff G made save after save.

With the first period ending up scoreless, the Engineers quickly regrouped and stepped up for the second. The hard work would pay off in the fourth minute of the period.

Down a man, captain Steve Schlueter G took the puck the length of the ice and left it for Greg Donaldson '00, who beat the Springfield goalie with a nifty shot to the right side.

"I had just missed a breakaway opportunity moments before," Donaldson said. "This time I made sure that I stayed calm and got the job done."

For a while, it looked as if the Engineers would take their 10 lead into the locker room, but this would not be the case. Springfield would slip in a loose puck in the closing minute of the second period to knot the game at one going into the third.

Even though the scoreboard said all was even, it was clear that Springfield had the momentum and therefore the advantage going into the final period. Eventually, they would turn this advantage into a point early in the third to take the lead for the first time during the night, making it MIT's turn to come from behind.

Midway through the third, Schlueter once again found a fellow teammate in front of the net. This time the man on the spot was forward Joe Charlson G, who managed to find the top shelf with a sharp wrister to tie the score. Despite the hard battles fought by both teams, the game eventually ended in the 22 draw.

Although a little of MIT's inexperience showed in Friday night's game there were definitely some strong points. The foremost was the skill and presence of the first-time Engineer goalie Tolkoff. Tolkoff may have been new to the MIT ice, but he was obviously no stranger to net, stopping shot after shot, including a blistering slapper labeled for the corner midway through the second period.

With Tolkoff in net and experience to be gained every game, the Engineers can look forward to much of the success enjoyed by last year's team, which finished the season 1531, as the regular season New England Collegiate Hockey Association champion.

MIT will next host Wheaton College tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Johnson Athletics Center.