John McLean – December Male Student-Athlete of the Month – First-year, Hockey
The Gustavus men’s hockey team got off to a slow start to begin its 2011-12 campaign with a 2-4-2 overall record after the month of November. But the Gusties stepped into December looking like a completely different team and finished the final month of the 2011 calendar year with a perfect 5-0-0 record. The season turnaround could be attributed to both the offense and defense, but wins are not possible without the strong play of a competitive goalie. First-year netminder John McLean has taken on that role and for his achievements on the ice, the Office of Sports Information has named McLean December Male Student-Athlete of the Month.
The Eagan, Minn. native suffered through some growing pains during the first four games of his collegiate career; McLean dropped three of those decisions and posted a 2.48 goals against average. But just as the rest of the team reversed its fortunes, so did McLean. He started the month of December with his first career shutout in a 6-0 victory over Augsburg. The Gusties completed the sweep over the Auggies the following day with a 4-1 win where McLean fended off a season-high 36 shots.
The ensuing weekend, the Black and Gold traveled to eastern Wisconsin where they came away with consecutive 5-3 victories over Concordia University and Lawrence University. McLean had a minor setback by allowing three goals in each game, but the offense helped him out to earn the pair of wins. The first-year goalie recorded 23 saves against Concordia and 28 against Lawrence.
In the final game of December, the Gusties were pitted up against their toughest opponent to date in then-No. 4 University of Wisconsin-River Falls – on the road. McLean once again answered the call by allowing just one goal to a team that averaged 4.5 goals per game in a 2-1 victory. He tallied 31 saves and dropped his season goals against average to a MIAC-leading 1.99.
Through the month of December, McLean registered a 1.80 goals against average and stopped 142-of-150 shots for a .947 save percentage. On the season, McLean ranks second in both save percentage (.932) – which also ranks sixth in all of Division III – and winning percentage (.667) in the MIAC.
“He’s done a really nice job adjusting to college hockey after his long three-year road in the junior circuit,” head coach Brett Petersen acknowledged. “He’s a very mature young man and he’s pretty calm under pressure. He’s been thrown into the fire and handled it really well. He’s got a great demeanor for a goaltender and we are very pleased that he’s here and making a case to have an awfully good career. John’s got a terrific work ethic and even for a goaltender our guys realize that he works really hard every day and doesn’t take anything for granted because he is a big goalie.”
Labeling McLean as a big goalie might even be a bit of an understatement as the Minnehaha Academy product is listed as the tallest collegiate hockey player at 6-8. In all collegiate hockey divisions, only the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Andrej Sustr matches McLean’s 6-8 stature.
“John would like to play hockey after college and realizes that he is at a very difficult position to do that because you only need one on every team. But that doesn’t deter his effort,” Petersen continued. “It’s just a goal that he’s always had and he’s going to keep trying to reach that goal until it becomes a reality or not. He’s got terrific drive and we couldn’t be happier for him right now.”
McLean and the rest of the Gusties return to action Friday with a home match-up against the College of St. Scholastica. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m. at Don Roberts Ice Rink.