One Final Series For The Playoffs

Junior Mario Bianchi reaches for a loose puck right in front of the St. Olaf during the Cobbers' series finale with the Oles.
Junior Mario Bianchi reaches for a loose puck right in front of the St. Olaf during the Cobbers' series finale with the Oles.

MOORHEAD, Minn. (2/11/17)--- Concordia and St. Olaf skated through almost 50 minutes of a defensive battle with the score deadlocked at 1-1 midway through the third period. The teams then tuned the final10 minutes of the series finale into an offensive showcase with the Oles scoring four consecutive goals and holding on for a 5-3 victory.

The Cobbers had the better of the offensive zone time throughout the game and put up a season-high 52 shots on goal but couldn't stop the Oles in the last half of the third period and lost in the final home game of the regular season.

Concordia is now 12-9-2 in all games but falls to .500 in the MIAC at 6-6-2. The Cobbers now have 22 league points which puts them in fifth place for the final spot in the conference playoffs. CC is two points ahead of St. John's who is in sixth place.

The Cobbers buzzed the St. Olaf goal the entire first and second period and mounted a 38-24 shots on goal margin. Unfortunately for Concordia, Ole goalie Eric Hancock was up for the challenge as he turned aside 37 of the 38 shots he faced.

The lone goal in the first 40 minutes of play came when Concordia sophomore Mario Bianchi came off the bench with the puck headed into the Cobber zone. Instead of getting back into the defensive end of play, Bianchi slid behind the St. Olaf defense and was sent free on a breakaway on a pass from Jake Stilwell.

Bianchi went to his backhand and buried a shot underneath the crossbar to give CC a 1-0 lead heading into the third period. Blake Berg was also credited with an assist on the play.

The game had all the makings of a one-goal finish as both goalies and defenses had been solid all afternoon.

The Oles were able to tie the game in the first minute of the third period when Cobber goalie Sam Nelson made a pad save on the first shot but an Ole attacker was standing all alone on the left side of the net and slammed home the rebound.

The goal came on the power play and would be the first of three power play tallies in the period.

The game settled back into a defensive battled for the next 9-minutes when CC was sent on the power play for a tripping call at 9:33. The Cobbers wasted little time getting the go-ahead goal as Garrett Hendrickson won the draw in the Ole end and the puck was played back to the point where Jordan Krebsbach fired a shot towards the middle of the net. Junior captain Jon Grebosky was standing by himself in the middle of the goal and was able to redirect Krebsbach's shot past Hancock. Zach Doerring was also credited with an assist on second strike for Concordia.

The game turned around in the 12th minute of play. Neither team was able to fire a shot on goal after   Grebosky's team-leading 10th goal of the year. St. Olaf then started their string of four straight goals at the 11:11 mark. They added a third goal exactly two minutes later at 13:11. The go-ahead goal came on the power play.

The score stayed at 3-2 in favor of the Oles until two goals 1:23 apart starting at 17:31 gave St. Olaf a comfortable 5-2 lead. The second goal came at 18:53 after the Cobbers had pulled Nelson in favor of an extra attacker.

Senior Sam Coborn would finish off the score sheet when he netted his third goal of the year at 19:58. Stilwell and Shane Gingera got the assists on the play.

Concordia outshot St. Olaf 52-35 for the game with Grebosky posting a career-high 11 shots on goal.

WELCOME BACK SHANE: Concordia junior Shane Gingera played in his first game of the season in the series finale after suffering a lower leg injury in the preseason. Gingera made the most of his return as he picked up an assist and was a plus-1 on the day,

SUCCESSFUL SHOT SERIES: Junior Jon Grebosky's 11 shots on goal on Saturday were a career high. His previous career high came on Friday night when he recorded eight shots on target. Grebosky is second on the team in total shots with 73 –only one behind team leader Mario Bianchi. Grebosky leads the two CC forward in shots on goal in conference play. He has 57 shots vs. MIAC opponents which is tied for third in the MIAC.   

SAM THE SHOT STOPPER: Cobber goalie Sam Nelson made 62 saves in the two-game series vs. St. Olaf and now has a league-leading 539 saves on the year.          

WHAT'S NEXT: Concordia will look to secure its fourth straight postseason appearance next weekend when they play at Bethel in the final series of the regular season.  The Royals are 2-19-2 overall and 1-11-2 in league play. The Cobbers could still finish anywhere from fourth to seventh place.