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Brady O’Brien / St. Cloud Times, Published February 23 2013

St. John's ends Concordia's men's hockey season

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – In hockey, a hot goalie can spell victory in many scenarios. And luckily for St. John’s, Saxton Soley is playing great hockey when it matters most.

The freshman goalkeeper made 19 saves Saturday night as the second-seeded Johnnies rolled past No. 3 Concordia 5-1 in the semifinals of the MIAC tournament at National Hockey and Event Center.

It propelled St. John’s into the conference championship game, which will be played on the Johnnies’ home rink. That’s because No. 4 seed Gustavus knocked off top seed St. Thomas 1-0 in Saturday’s other semifinal.

“It was back and forth the whole game,” said Soley of Saturday’s win, the Johnnies’ first playoff victory since 2008. “But during the third period, we just played the kind of hockey we’ve been playing all year.”

Coming into Saturday night’s bout, Concordia was riding a five-game winning streak on the coattail of junior goalie Chris Neamonitis, who was tied for the conference lead in save percentage with Soley at .931.

But it was Soley who came out on top again in this battle of talented MIAC goalies, allowing just one Concordia goal, which was scored by Dan Hrabowych on the power play in the second period and cut the St. John’s lead to 2-1.

“He played a great game,” Cobbers coach Chris Howe said of Soley. “But our goalie played pretty well too. It was just a situation where they really capitalized on their opportunities tonight and played great defense. That was tough to stop.”

The Johnnies dominated the final period, outscoring Concordia 3-0.

“We knew it was going to be tough to come back from anything more than really a one-goal lead,” Howe, the former St. John’s player and assistant whose current team finished its season 13-12-1 overall. “They’re just so sound defensively that it’s tough to dig out of a hole against them.”

FIRST PERIOD: 1, SJU, Ramsgard, 12:36.

SECOND PERIOD: 2, SJU, Hochsprung (Gross), :13. 3, CC, Hrabowych (Aus), 4:43, pp.

THIRD PERIOD: 4, SJU, Cossette (Hochsprung), 4:08. 5, SJU, Ramsgard (Palmiscno), 11:03. 6, SJU, Gross (Haeeg, Johnson), 14:41.

SAVES: CC, Neamonitis 12-11-9–32. SJU, Soley 8-6-5–19.