Freshmen making early season impact for MSU

It didn’t take long for the freshmen on the Minot State University men’s club hockey team to find their scoring touch.

Eight freshmen tallied at least an assist in a pair of victories at Briercrest University (Sask.) over the weekend to open the season. Freshman Jeremy Johnson led the Beavers (2-0) with two goals and four assists. Freshman Sean Delwo tallied three goals and an assist.

“I didn’t think it would be that quick of a start scoring my first goal,” Delwo said. “Big surprise and I felt good about it.”

Johnson recorded MSU’s first goal of the season 2 minutes, 57 seconds into the opening period with the assist by freshman Cole Olson. Johnson said the chemistry with linemates Olson and sophomore Brent Nespor made the transition to the American Collegiate Hockey League easier. The linemates posted five goals and seven assists over the weekend.

“Last weekend was a good couple of games to dip our toes in the water and see how we do as a team,” Johnson said. “I really liked my linemates. We play well together and it seems like all the other lines are working together too so it should be a good year.”

The Beavers used a five-goal first period en route to a 9-4 victory on Friday. Freshmen accounted for six goals and seven assists in the win.

“I was very impressed, especially that first game on the road,” MSU coach Wade Regier said. “I remember when I was a college athlete about the first-game jitters. But it was exciting to see the energy and the way the guys played.”

The Beavers got more of a fight from Briercrest on Saturday. Trailing 1-0 after the first period, MSU scored six of the last seven goals for a 6-2 victory. Delwo scored the eventual game-winning goal 29 seconds into the third period. Freshmen were responsible for three goals and six assists Saturday.

“In the second game, Sean looked really good when we were in a tight game,” Regier said. “He was able to make some plays and score some timely goals.”

Series shifts

to Minot

Minot State and Briercrest meet twice more beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Maysa Arena for the Beavers’ home opener.

The Beavers were 13-0 at home last season and haven’t lost at Maysa since a shootout loss to Robert Morris University (Ill.) on Oct. 29, 2011. Along with a large crowd, Regier expects another physical battle with the Clippers (0-2).

“They are going to be by far the most physical test we’ll play all season,” he said. “They’re a lot bigger. They play a rugged brand of hockey. It’s certainly something we have to be prepared for.”

Regier believes this weekend’s games will mirror the second contest in Briercrest more than the first. The Beavers fell behind early with solid goaltending from Clippers goalie Connor Dobbertheir, but rallied over the final two periods to complete the weekend sweep.

“They’re going to definitely make some adjustments,” Regier said. “They certainly did in the second game and were able to slow us down in the first two periods and control the tempo. It will turn into more of a chess match, especially if they get good goaltending again.”

Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State University men’s club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.