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Men’s Ice Hockey Annihilates UCLA 8-1 at Nationals

By Shao-Fei Moy
SPORTS EDITOR

In their final match of the year, the men’s ice hockey team destroyed the University of California, Los Angeles 8-1 on Friday, March 5 at the Acord Ice Center in West Valley City, Utah. The win came after MIT lost two tough pool play matches earlier in the week, the first to St. Louis University, and the second to the eventual American Collegiate Hockey Association national champions, Life College.

The Engineers set the tone for the match in the first period by outskating the Bruins. Greg Donaldson ’00 was able to capitalize on an early powerplay opportunity by scoring the first goal off an assist by Captain John Rae ’99 and Avishai Geller ’01 only 3:37 into the period. MIT assaulted the UCLA goal several more times with a number of near misses.

With 12:33 remaining, an MIT penalty gave the Bruins their first opportunity to score. UCLA showed some life by challenging goalie John Zehren ’99 with a series of wrist shots and put back attempts. Zehren, showing why he’s considered one of the top goalies in the nation, frustrated the UCLA squad by turning away the attacks. Towards the end of the first period, MIT had a two man advantage on a couple of Bruins’ high stick penalties, but were unable to extend their lead.

The second period began with both teams skating aggressively, leading to two penalties, one assessed to each team, in the first two minutes. MIT was able to regain their composure to score their second goal with 14:31 remaining in the period. Shane Swenson ’01 put MIT up 2-0 by netting a rebound on a three-on-one breakaway. Michael Woods ’00 assisted on the score.

Two minutes after the MIT goal, the Bruins failed to score their first goal when they blew a four-on-one attack. The outstanding goal tending by Zehren sparked yet another Engineer attack. McKeone and Rae set up Geller’s goal with 10:04 remaining after the Bruins lost the puck behind their own net.

Six minutes later, the UCLA goalie made a stick save on a slap shot by Donaldson, but Burns Schilling ’02 was in position to put back the rebound to give MIT a commanding 4-0 lead. UCLA’s inability to stop the onslaught caused the team to fall apart as they began scuffling among themselves on the bench as the second period came to an end.

The Bruins got on the scoreboard by surprising the MIT squad with a goal only 10 seconds into the third period. The Engineers then came back with a point of their own less than two minutes later when Rae skated around a UCLA defender to beat their goalie for a short handed goal.

The scoring continued as the ruthless MIT offense continued to barrage the Bruins for the rest of the third period. William Kennedy ’02 scored his first goal of the season on a powerplay with 10:41 remaining. Kennedy redirected a shot by Geller to beat the UCLA goalie.

Woods put MIT up 7-1 less three and a half minutes later on a breakaway. Rae earned an assist on an excellent pass that split the defenders.

Kennedy capped off the afternoon with his second goal on another powerplay. Kennedy’s sharp angel shot off Woods’ assist gave MIT it’s eighth and final goal.

Although the Engineers did not make it into the semifinals, they certainly surprised many of their contenders.

“It’s the first time that MIT has ever been at nationals and nobody expected us to be here,” commented Coach Mark O’Mera.

“It was by far the most successful season while I’ve been here,” added Zehren. “We went 10-0 in the league. We also have a list of goals in our locker room and we accomplished every one of them.”