The Gustavus men’s hockey team dropped its season opener to Wisconsin-River Falls by the score of 4-2 on Friday evening at Don Roberts Ice Arena. Derek Hansberry led the Falcons with two goals, while Eric Bigham (Fy., Robbinsdale, Minn.) and Ben Ollila (Jr., Lino Lakes, Minn.) scored for the Gusties. Gustavus falls to 0-1-0 in the young season, while River Falls improves to 2-1-0.
The Falcons got out to an early 2-0 lead after a pair of goals by Pat Borgestad and Hansberry. Borgestad found himself on a breakaway immediately following a successful penalty kill for the Falcons. He skated the puck across the net and slid it past Gustie netminder Kevin Johnson (So., Wayzata, Minn.). Assisting on the play was Wade Harstad. Four minutes later while holding a 5-on-3 advantage, Hansberry received a pass from T.J. Dahl and shot a one-timer past Johnson. Pat Borgestad was also credited with an assist on the play. Gustavus was able to cut the lead to 2-1 when Mike Hosfield (Sr., Golden Valley, Minn.) took a shot from inside the blue line that sailed wide of the net, however Bigham picked up the rebound and stuffed it past Falcon goaltender A.J. Bucchino. Jon Keseley (Sr., St. Louis Park, Minn.) also assisted on the play.
Gustavus started the second period on a power play and a minute later River Falls took another penalty to give the Gusties a 5-on-3 advantage. The Falcons managed to kill the lengthy penalties and escaped without allowing a goal. River Falls took a two-goal lead at the 7:12 mark of the second period when Dahl carried the puck across the net, with Johnson’s leg extended on the ice, he hoisted the puck with his backhand to the top of the net to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead.
Ollila scored to cut the lead to 3-2 at the 13:19 mark of the second period when he recovered a rebound in front of the net and shot it through Bucchino’s legs. The Falcons got their two goal lead back with a little over a minute to play in the second period when Hansberry deflected a shot from Jim Henkemeyer past Johnson giving River Falls a 4-2 lead after two periods.
Neither team managed to score in the third period allowing River Falls to claim the 4-2 victory.
River Falls held a 28-26 advantage in shots, while going 2-for-12 on power play opportunities. Gustavus was 3-for-11 on power plays, while taking 15 penalties in the game. Johnson recorded 24 saves for Gustavus in the loss. Bucchino turned away 24 shots for the win.
The Gusties will play Wisconsin-Stout on Saturday evening at 7:30 in a non-conference matchup.