St. Peter, Minn. - After coming away a little battered and bruised after a one-goal victory over St. Scholastica last night, the Gustavus men’s hockey had its hands full as it looked to cap the weekend with a win over No. 14 UW-Superior at Don Roberts Ice Rink Saturday night. The Gusties responded to the challenge, scraping up a 2-1 victory over the Yellowjackets thanks to a short-handed goal Adam Smyth and a hot goalie in John McLean.
With the victory, Gustavus improves its winning-streak to seven games. The Gusties are now 9-4-2 overall entering the start of their 2012 MIAC schedule. UW-Superior falls to 8-6-2 overall with the loss.
“I’m pleased with the result but I’m disappointed in the way we finished. Its good to be on a roll like we are now but we have a long way to go,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “We survived a good non-conference schedule with most of the games on the road. It’s the first time in my tenure that we have gone unbeaten against the NCHA, so that’s pretty cool.”
The Gusties finish their 2011-12 non-conference schedule with a record of 6-0-1, defeating two ranked teams including No. 4 UW-River Falls 2-1 (Dec. 14) and No. 14 UW-Superior tonight.
For the seventh-straight game, it was Gustavus drawing first blood. Rookie forward Tyler Schwartz put Gustavus up 1-0 with a sharp wrister that found the top corner of the net. The goal by Schwartz was the first of his career.
“Coming down the right side, got a great pass from Brian White and saw the upper glove open so I shot and it went in. This was my seventh game so it feels really good to get that monkey off my back,” commented Tyler Scwartz on his first collegiate goal.
Gustavus outshot UW-Superior 8-to-2 in the opening period, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
UW-Superior was able to tie the game at 1-1 at the 3:13 mark of the second period when Pat Dalbec converted on a breakaway following two crisp breakout passes by Kyle Leahy and Joey Massingham.
Over a minute into a Yellowjacket power play with under five minutes left in the second period, sophomore forward Adam Smyth found himself on a 2-on-1 break moving the puck up the left boards. Smyth fired a wrister from the left dot that beat goaltender Drew Strandberg blocker-side for the game-winning, short-handed goal. The short-handed goal by Smyth was the first of his career and Gustavus’ first of the season.
The Yellowjackets would not go quietly into the night however, coming out for the third period a changed team. UW-Superior recorded 20 shots to Gustavus’ three in the frame. Fortunately, freshman goaltender John McLean was up to the challenge. McLean stopped all 20 shots and the Gusties killed two Yellowjacket power plays to hold on for the one-goal victory.
“I thought for two periods it was a pretty good game, but UW-Superior was far-and-away the better team in the period,” commented Petersen. “Tonight we relied on our goaltending to get us through and we found a way to win. It was the John McLean show and eventually we’re going to have to give him some help, but tonight we’ll take it.”
McLean finished the game with 30 saves. The 6-8 freshman has logged complete games in all of Gustavus’ last seven contests. He improves to 8-3-0 on the year with the win and now carries a .935 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against average.
The Gusties were outshot by its opponent for the second-straight game, as UW-Superior tallied 31 shots to the Gusties’ 17 – their lowest shot total of the season.
Gustavus’ penalty kill got back on track after giving up two power play goals to St. Scholastica last night. UW-Superior went 0-for-4 with four shots on the man-advantage.
“Our “A” game is pretty good, but we don’t have a “B” game right now. You’re not going to get an A on every shift but at some point we have to find B,” said Petersen on the ups-and-downs his squad’s play this weekend. “Consistency will be big as we continue on and get back into our MIAC schedule.”
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will travel to St. Cloud, Minn. to take on Saint John’s in its first MIAC test of 2012 on Friday, Jan. 13 at 7:00 p.m.