Photos by Rebecca Twite and Nick Wosika

A Weekend of D-I Hockey Firsts

The energy was palpable this weekend for both the men's and the women's hockey teams as they marked many firsts, including: the women's first home game on Oct. 1, the women's first Division I win on Oct. 2 and the men's first home game on Oct. 3.

Women's hockey

Luci Bianchi's go-ahead goal helped the Tommies rally past Bemidji State on Oct. 2. (Justin Wolford)

Although the women's hockey team kept it close in its home Division I opener on Oct. 1 against Bemidji State, the team lost 3-0. The next afternoon the Tommies rallied past Bemidji State for a 2-1 comeback win.

"I was really excited for [goalie Saskia Mauer]," Tommie coach Joel Johnson said. "She played great. There were some big saves and in some big spots. And Bemidji got the same goaltending, with big saves in big spots.

"Friday against Bemidji we didn't have a commitment to play the way we were supposed to. Today we just encouraged our players to just play the way [we can]. Let's defend well, that has to be our identity, and let's get some good goaltending, and let's get some pucks to the net," Johnson continued. "We still have work to do in getting pucks to the net and creating more offense. But I think this is a version of the team that we feel like we have to play, much more so than yesterday.

"I just want our players to know they had a special moment today, and they deserve all the credit."

Men's hockey

Nick Wosika

For its home debut on Oct. 3, the men's hockey team took on No. 2-ranked St. Cloud State before an announced crowd of 4,261 at Xcel Energy Center. Although the Tommies lost 2-0, it was an encouraging night with an energetic student section. The Tommies home debut also was a major improvement over the Oct. 2 season opener, when St. Cloud State dominated for a 12-2 win.

St. Thomas coach Rico Blasi said his team showed growth and improvement this weekend, despite the two different outcomes. "St. Cloud State is just really, really good," Blasi said. "They're ranked No. 2, but I think they should be ranked No. 1."