Mehlhop, Babik lead New Ulm to victory
NEW ULM — Brandon Mehlhop recorded his third hat trick of the season and Tomas Babik added two power play goals as the New Ulm Eagles closed out their regular season with a 5-1 win over Waseca Thursday night at the New Ulm Civic Center in Big South Conference play.
Max Heiderscheidt and Brady Asmus each had two assists with Mehlhop and Babik each adding one assist.
Eagles’ goalie Jack Raymond stopped 19 of 20 Jays’ shots with Waseca’s Peter Meyer getting the only puck by Raymond.
“I thought that we played a pretty solid first period,” said New Ulm coach Ryan Neuman who saw his team finish the regular season at 10-6 in the conference and 14-10-1 overall. “It was huge to come out and get that lead. I thought that we did a good job on the power play (three of six with the man advantage) and in even strength. We got pucks to the net and generating some traffic.”
The Eagles, who had lost to Waseca 5-3 earlier in the season, jumped on the Jays for two first-period goals off of the stick of Mehlhop for a 2- 0 lead.
Mehlhop’s first goal came when Asmus shot was stopped by Waseca netminder Andrew Weber. But Mehlhop was there to put a backhander by him at the 2:21 mark.
Mehlhop’ second score came when he beat Weber with a wrist shot just over nine minutes later.
“I know that he gets a little frustrated wishing he could put the puck in the net more,” Neuman said about Mehlhop. “But I told him he is generating goals and the goals that you are scoring are the ones that we want you to score in playoffs.”
The lead was one that Waseca never overcame and gave New Ulm some revenge and momentum going into the playoffs.
“We came out with the intensity that we needed,” Mehlhop said. “We had this one marked on the calendar after we lost to them earlier.”
While the first period belonged to Mehlhop, the second period was Tomas Babik’s.
Babik’s first power play goal came just 31 seconds into the second period when he put a rebound by Weber for a 3-0 lead with Asmus and Heiderscheidt getting helpers.
His second score came on an unassisted goal 13 minutes later.
“On his first goal that he had we joked with him that he could have stood there for a few more seconds before he shot it in,” Neuman said. “He is a big body to put in front of the net and it is tough for a goalie to see around him and he has good hockey sense.”
After Meyer’s goal late in the second period cut the lead to 4-1, Mehlhop got his hat trick on a power play goal at the 12:58 mark of the third period.
“Our goalie, Jack Raymond, has been clicking on all cylinders since the Holiday Tournament,” Neuman said. “We’ll need that now in the playoffs. We are 9-2 in our last 11 games and that is a good streak to be in going into the playoffs.”