The UNM Ice Wolves club hockey team ended its regular season with a pair of close wins and are headed to the playoffs.
The Ice Wolves will join Weber State University, the University of Utah and Utah State University in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament.
"Coming from two losing seasons to a winning season is a great confidence boost. So is making the playoffs," forward Oscar Solis said; after clinching a playoff berth two weeks ago, UNM did not have such an easy time with the Northern Arizona University last weekend.
Game one started with good offensive pressure by NAU. But the Ice Jacks also had trouble getting the puck out of their zone. Their pressure eventually waned and UNM took advantage when Oscar Solis took a slap shot from the high slot that trickled into the Ice Jacks' net.
The game stayed close as the teams traded goals and played strong defense, with UNM's defensive pairing of Justin Christofferson and Katy Moore cutting off several of Northern Arizona's scoring chances.
With the score tied at three in the third period, NAU put good pressure on UNM. That ended though, when UNM's Edgar Solis took a pass from brother Erik and scored the game-winning goal.
The second game of the series had plenty of end-to-end action. UNM's Mike Wanigasekera started the scoring with a goal at 2:15 into the first period, off an assist by Nick Hoffman. UNM scored two more goals before Northern Arizona answered with a goal of its own.
The teams traded goals throughout the game, with the Ice Wolves getting some help when NAU defenseman Shaun Light threw the puck into his own net, a play that became a deciding factor in the game. UNM started the third period with a three-goal lead but Northern Arizona closed it to one late in the period, though UNM held on with forward Tom Medcof scoring the game-winner.
"Everyone was hurting everywhere," Medcof said. "Ethan (White) and Katy are hurting and (Dan) Race isn't playing."
Hoffman ended the game with two goals and three assists, Oscar Solis scored two goals and Edgar Solis earned a goal and an assist.
"I think splitting the lines helped us win tonight," Oscar Solis said. "It helped balance out the lines and spread out the talent. I love playing with my brothers but this whole team clicks."
UNM is hoping to take that team chemistry to the 2001 RMCHA Championship in Ogden, Utah, Feb. 22-24, where it will face association powerhouse Weber State in the first round of the tournament.
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