Oles were No. 5 seed heading into tourney

BLAINE, Minn. – For the third time in program history and the second time in the past three seasons, the St. Olaf Oles are Men’s Hockey Playoff champions of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC).

The No. 5 seeded Oles defeated No. 2 seed Bethel, 4-1, in the conference tournament finale on Saturday night.

Following the game, St. Olaf received the MIAC Playoff Championship plaque, Ed Saugestad Cup, and the Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. St. Olaf will learn its next opponent on Monday morning when the NCAA releases its 2024 national tournament field, while Bethel will hope for an at-large berth into the Tournament.


HOW IT HAPPENED
Troy Bowditch got the Oles on the board first with an even-strength goal at 6:23 in the first period.
-Bethel’s Joe Westlund evened the score at 1-1 at 4:58 in the second before Sean Walsh tallied the game-winner for St. Olaf 12 minutes later.
Kelijah McElroy added an insurance goal three minutes into the third frame, and Matthew Pointer scored an empty-netter with just more than a minute to play.
-Ole goaltender Thomas Lalonde registered 27 saves while Bethel’s Austin Ryman stopped 24 shots.


 BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
-With the victory, St. Olaf earned the MIAC’s automatic qualifier to the 2024 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament. This will be the Oles’ third trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history.
-The MIAC Playoff title is the third for St. Olaf all-time. The Oles previously won the conference tournament in 2006 and 2022.
-Bethel was No. 13 in the most recent NCAA Pairwise Rankings while St. Olaf was No. 32. Sixteen teams will qualify for the NCAA Tournament.


 UP NEXT
-The entire national tournament field will be announced at 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 4 on NCAA.com.


2024 MIAC MEN’S HOCKEY PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Quarterfinals | Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 | 7:00 PM |
No. 5 St. Olaf 3, No. 4 Saint Mary’s 0 | Box Score |

Semifinals | Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 | 7:00 PM |
No. 5 St. Olaf 4, No. 1 Augsburg 0 | Box Score |
No. 2 Bethel 2, No. 3 St. Scholastica 1 (2OT) | Box Score |

Championship | Saturday, Mar. 2, 2024 | 7:00 PM |
No. 5 St. Olaf 4, No. 2 Bethel 1 | Box Score |