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Hill-Murray's trainer prepares to treat injured Burnsville forward Tyler Sheehy. Photo by Brian Nelson

Jacob Olson, in Hill-Murray coach Bill Lechner’s hockey lexicon, is a puppy.

For Lechner, that’s a term of endearment. It also serves as a reminder for the newbies where they stand in the team pecking order.

“Yeah, that’s what he calls us new kids, guys who haven’t been on the varsity before,” said Olson, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore defenseman who spent all of last season toiling on the Pioneers’ junior varsity.

Make the Hill-Murray varsity, though, and you never know what might happen.

Sophomore defenseman Jacob Olson, left, scored a power-play goal in the third period to lift Hill-Murray past Burnsville. Photo by Brian Nelson

Sophomore defenseman Jacob Olson, left, scored a power-play goal in the third period to lift Hill-Murray past Burnsville. Photo by Brian Nelson

When top Pioneers defenseman Sam Becker received a 5-minute major and game misconduct penalty for checking from behind to end the first period, Hill-Murray’s defensemen all moved up a slot on the depth chart.

For Olson, that meant some unexpected power-play time in the third period. Opportunistic to the end, he corralled a rebound and drilled the puck past Burnsville goaltender Chris Mallon’s blocking glove without breaking stride.

“It felt really good to get that first goal,” Olson said. “Becker is usually on the first power play, but then Logan (Sharp) took his place from the second, so then I got a shot to hop on there on the second power play. 

“Made the most of it. “

The goal secured the Pioneers’ 2-1 victory over Hill-Murray on Friday, Nov. 29, at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood in the season opener for both teams.

“We put in a puppy, and he got the goal,” Lechner said. “Good for him.”

Hill-Murray, which lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in last year’s state title game, is re-tooling after losing most of its key players to graduation or early departures. Burnsville, which lost to Edina in a section title game last season, also has a new-look lineup that features only five players with extensive varsity experience.

The inexperience for both teams was noticeable in the early going, when the players appeared tentative and the puck movement was ragged.

“First game, a little bit of the nerves were there,” said Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme. “The kids were handling the puck a little bit like a hot potato.”

Understanding that mistakes will be made and nerves will be frayed, Lechner said all he was hoping to get out of the game was a win. 

“Any kind of win,” Lechner said. “I don’t care if it is by one goal or in overtime, I don’t think that’s important.”
Lechner, then, got exactly what he wanted out of the season opener. He also saw what he had hoped for in Olson.

“He’s a young sophomore,” Lechner said. “But he’s got that kind of character, and that’s why he was out on the ice."

Game Recap


Burnsville's Tyler Sheehy, left, and Hill-Murray's Zach LaValle jockey for position on a faceoff. Photo by Brian Nelson

Hill-Murray sophomore defenseman Jacob Olson scored the winning goal on a power play with 5 minutes, 49 seconds remaining as the Pioneers beat Burnsville 2-1 on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Aldrich Arena in Maplewood in a game delayed for more than 10 minutes after Burnsville star forward Tyler Sheehy suffered a scary injury in the final minute and was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.

Sheehy, who scored Burnsville’s goal, raised his right arm and gave a thumbs-up sign as he was carted off the ice and through the Zamboni doors to an ambulance.

Burnsville coach Janne Kivihalme said Sheehy was able to move all of his limbs and that extra precautions were taken because Sheehy was feeling pain in his lower back. 

The scary injury -- Sheehy tangled awkwardly with Hill-Murray’s Willie Brown in what was a seemingly innocent collision -- marred the exciting finish of what was the season opener for both teams and overshadowed Olson’s big goal.

Playing in his first varsity game, Olson ripped a rising shot from the high slot past Burnsville goaltender Chris Mallon. Olson was running the point on the power play in place of Sam Becker, who was out of the game after receiving a 5-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind.

Mitch Slattery also scored for Hill-Murray.

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1. Jacob Olson, Hill-Murray
Thrown out on the power play as a replacement for Sam Becker (game misconduct), all Olson, a sophomore defenseman, did was score the first goal of his varsity career late in the third period to boost the Pioneers to victory.

2. Tyler Sheehy, Burnsville
The speedy junior scored the Braves’ goal and was buzzing around the ice all night until he suffered a scary injury after getting tangled up with a Hill-Murray player in an awkward collision in the closing minute.

3. Mitch Slattery, Hill-Murray
The junior transfer from Shattuck-St. Mary’s scored the Pioneers’ first goal and notched an assist on Olson’s game winner. Not a bad debut in the green and black.

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