ALBERT LEA, Minn. – The Waldorf College hockey team moved a step closer to its goal of capturing the Northern Collegiate Hockey League (NCHL) Tournament championship.
A dominant display from the Warriors (22-8-3) led to a 7-0 victory over Michigan Technological University (7-10) during Saturday's semifinal.
"We didn't start as well as we had hoped, but the second half of the first period we seemed to settle in and play our game," Waldorf coach Brett Shelanski said.
The Warriors, ranked No. 12 in the latest American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division II Central Region poll, quickly found themselves firing on all cylinders and had six different players account for the seven goals.
"Every line generated scoring chances," Shelanski said. "We got production and quality shifts up and down the lineup."
Dalton Kaake led Waldorf with two goals and one assist as the sophomore forward from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan finished with three total points. Jess Engquist, a junior forward from Richmond, Minn., added two points with a goal and an assist.
Nicholas Carroll fought off everything that came his way to earn the shutout. The sophomore goaltender from Litchfield Park, Ariz. recorded 26 saves in the win.
The Warriors came out ready to show why they're the tournament's No. 1 seed. Kaake lit up the scoreboard on a breakaway in the ninth minute of the game.
Sophomore Artem Savelyev fired the puck from the high slot and connected to boost Waldorf to a two-goal advantage in the 15th minute of the opening period.
The fourth-seeded Wolf Pack started the second period on a power play and had opportunities. They were unable to cash in as Engquist drove the puck home off an assist from Kaake in the second minute.
Junior Jake Taylor converted on a power play for the Warriors, firing a shot through traffic to the back of the net four minutes later.
"In the second period, we were able to bury some scoring chances in quick succession early with some nice plays," Shelanski said.
Kaake connected on his second goal of the night following an assist from sophomore Lane Sanderson in the eighth minute of the second period. Senior Daniel Pletta kept Waldorf in command, scoring the sixth goal of the contest less than three minutes later.
Despite just one goal in the final 20 minutes, Waldorf turned in some of its strongest play down the stretch.
"Once the score opened up, we lacked a little bit of focus and intensity toward the end but we responded with a pretty sound third period, which was some of our best hockey of the night," Shelanski said.
The Warriors advance to Sunday's championship game against No. 15 Robert Morris University (18-14).
Waldorf shared the NCHL regular-season championship with the Eagles as both teams turned in 8-4 conference records during the league's inaugural season. The Warriors split the season series with Robert Morris, earning a 3-1 win on Nov. 22 at Bensenville, Ill. before falling in a 2-1 loss the following night.
Waldorf collides with the second-seeded Eagles at 2 p.m. in the battle for the Philip E. Schroeder Memorial Trophy, also known as the Hap Cup.