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Men's Ice Hockey Wins Sixth Straight

Garry Maskaly -- The Tech
Kalpana Mani '99 puts pressure on the Harvard goalie and a defender as other players watch. MIT won Thursday's game 6-0.
By John Rae and Jim Goodman
Team Member

The men's varsity ice hockey team extended its winning streak to six games and improved their overall record to 92 with a hard fought 54 victory against Bates College last Wednesday night. Since returning from break, MIT has gone 50 with wins over fifth ranked Coast Guard Academy, ninth ranked Bates, tenth ranked Springfield and second ranked Central Connecticut State University. With this impressive winning streak MIT has earned second in the ranking in the Northeast, and an invitation to the national championship in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After a relatively slow start, the Engineers have turned up their level of play dramatically. The early portion of their schedule had MIT facing tough competition in Central Connecticut and Suffolk University. MIT held the lead in both of these games, but their inexperience showed as they lost both games by one goal in the later moments.

The third major challenge for MIT came in a game against Coast Guard immediately after break. Coast Guard was expected to be a very good team, but MIT exploded out of the gate taking an early 4-0 lead. Even without starting goalie John Zehren '99, MIT cruised to an easy 74 victory. MIT followed that huge victory with another win at home against Bates just three days later. Again MIT had a quick start, jumping out to an early 30 lead. With a strong defensive second and third periods the Engineers easily walked away with the 52 victory. A third straight quick start allowed MIT to cruise past Springfield 51.

After their win over Springfield, MIT jumped up in the rankings to the number four position. With the national championship invitations going out Feb. 5, MIT had the two biggest games of the season ahead of them. On Jan. 29, MIT traveled to Central Connecticut to face the Blue Eagles on their home ice. Over the past four years the Engineers have had tremendous difficulty against Central Connecticut, winning only once and losing seven time in the span. On this occasion MIT dominated the game from the first face off. John Rae '99 lead off the scoring for MIT on an excellent pass from Brett McKeone G. MIT's crash line of Russ Roder '01, J.D. McNally '01, and Marc Cappellari '01 was the key factor in the game. Their tremendous physical play and hustle led to an MIT goal and several penalties by an obviously frustrated, Central Connecticut team. Goals by Roder, Avishai Geller '01 and Greg Donaldson '00 carried MIT to a 42 victory. Excellent goaltending by Zehren insured that Central Connecticut never had a chance.

MIT followed up that big victory with a let down against Bates. MIT fell behind 20 early in the game. With the early lead and a boisterous crowd supporting them, Bates dominated the first period and the early minutes of the second period. Play was stopped early in the second period to repair a broken pane of glass at the ice level. The stoppage allowed MIT to regain their composure, and they scored two quick goals after play resumed to tie the game. The game was tied at 33 in the third period when Bates scored to take the lead with only seven minutes remaining. After taking a penalty late in the game with only four minutes remaining, it began to look like MIT's winning streak would be coming to an end. However, in a true display of determination and penalty killing, MIT was able to steal the puck which led to a short handed goal by Geller. With only one minute remaining in the game McKeone stole the puck and put a shot on goal after a breakaway. The Bates goalie made an incredible save, but Mike Woods '00 was there to bury the rebound and give MIT the last minute 5-4 victory.

At 92 overall for the season MIT is looking forward to a chance at winning the league championship and hopefully a shot at a national title. Their next home match will be Wednesday, February 10 at 7:00 p.m. against Daniel Webster.