WENTZVILLE, Mo. – The Waldorf College hockey team closed out the regular season, falling short in a pair of weekend losses to Lindenwood University.
"It was a couple of tough losses this weekend, but we competed hard and both games were tight to the end and could have gone either way," Waldorf coach Brett Shelanski said.
The Lions, ranked No. 4 in the latest American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Central Region poll, escaped with a 3-2 overtime win over the No. 12 Warriors (21-8-3) on Friday. Lindenwood claimed a 3-1 victory in Saturday's series finale.
The losses marked the final two regular-season games for the Warriors, who host the Northern Collegiate Hockey League (NCHL) Tournament on Feb. 13-15 at Albert Lea, Minn.
"It was small mistakes here and there that cost us, but we will learn from those and that will help prepare us for the playoffs," Shelanski said.
Lindenwood's Brenden Church scored in the opening minute of Friday's contest.
Waldorf's Lane Sanderson connected on the equalizer less than eight minutes later following an assist from Dalton Kaake. It was the eighth goal of the season for the sophomore forward from Consul, Saskatchewan.
Alex Fleming put the Warriors in front, 2-1 as the sophomore forward from Orion, Ill. notched his eighth goal of the year off assists from freshman Travis Park and junior Jess Engquist during the 17th minute of the second period.
John Mulligan delivered for the Lions. He tied the contest with a third-period goal and provided the game-winner in overtime.
Waldorf freshman Ronald Paulson recorded 41 saves in the loss. Lindenwood turned in 44 shots while the Warriors attempted 33 shots.
After two scoreless periods in Saturday's series finale, Kyle Vesling broke open the game for the Lions with the first goal of the night coming in the third period.
Waldorf sophomore Spencer Johnson tied the game less than a minute later with his seventh goal of the season. Sanderson and Kaake provided assists.
Church scored the game-winner in the 16th minute of the final period and Mulligan tacked on an insurance goal with less than two minutes remaining.
Sophomore Nicholas Carroll led the Warriors with 20 saves while Paulson finished with 15 saves. The Lions outshot Waldorf 38-24.
Friday's loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Warriors, who have won 13 of their last 18 contests.
On Saturday, Waldorf earned a share of the NCHL regular-season championship. The Warriors put together an 8-4 conference record, sharing the title with No. 15 Robert Morris University (17-13) in the league's inaugural season.
"We are proud of our accomplishment in the NCHL regular season," Shelanski said.
The Warriors open the NCHL Tournament in next Saturday's 4 p.m. semifinal against an opponent to be determined. With the tournament's No. 1 seed and a share of the regular-season conference crown, Waldorf begins its pursuit of the Philip E. Schroeder Memorial Trophy.
"We have put ourselves in a good position for the conference tournament," Shelanski said. "That being said, we understand that every team is 0-0 now and our execution and work ethic have to be there every shift in order for us to have playoff success."