ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It is a staggering story based on numbers. Hamline University’s hockey team won two games last season.

If they win Saturday against Wisconsin-Stevens Point, they will advance to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four with a new coach and a new culture.

The picture tells the story of a conference championship win, and a trophy they brought home on the bus from Winona.

“Yeah I mean it doesn’t look bad. We had some fun with it,” senior defenseman Joe Rubbelke said.

To understand it you have to understand this: The Pipers  were 2-22 a year ago. That’s right. from there to one win away from the Frozen Four.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s exciting, especially considering the last two seasons that we just couldn’t get the job done. We weren’t getting the results we wanted,” Rubbelke said.

They hired a new coach. Cory Laylin was a one-time assistant at Hamline, a former Gopher with a background as a professional in Europe. He went to work immediately to change the culture.

“We got guys excited to come to the rink every day and the guys are fired up to do what I’m asking them to do. We get our work in, we get in and we get out,” Laylin said.

And the quiet urban campus in St. Paul has come to life. The oldest university in the state is on the cusp of something it has not ever done. That creates a buzz.

“Right now it’s buzzing around here. They’ve been asking for fan buses and everything, and they’re all getting on board now,” junior Brandon Zurn said.

Because the fans believe now what the players have to believe: They can win, and opponents better come ready to compete against the Pipers.

“We’ve got the results and guys are playing hard. In that third period guys are getting the bounces,” Laylin said.

Mike Max

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