St. Peter, Minn. - Despite a three-goal comeback win last night in St. Cloud, three goals proved to be too many on Saturday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink, as the Gustavus men’s hockey team saw its eight-game winning-streak come to an end with a 4-3 loss to the Johnnies. The Gusties scored a late third period goal to cut the lead to 4-3, yet couldn’t find the equalizer in the final minute. John Haeg led Saint John’s with a pair of goals including the game-winner halfway through the third period.
The Johnnies earn a split with the victory, picking up two points on the weekend and moving to 4-9-2 overall and 2-4-0 in the MIAC. Gustavus heads into its by weekend with an overall record of 10-5-2 and an MIAC mark of 4-4-0.
“Its hard to get a sweep in this league and tonight proves that,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “We can’t have two poor starts in a row and expect to come away with two wins.”
The Johnnies scored the opening goal of the game for the second night in a row when Josh Gaughan put the Johnnies up 1-0 just 1:52 into the contest.
Saint John’s extended its lead to 2-0 to kick off the second period when Haeg tallied his first of two goals at the 1:18 mark. Deju vu set in halfway through the frame, because, for the second night in a row, it was Saint John’s taking a 3-0 lead with power play goal at the 11:02 mark. Instead of Joe Harren like last night, tonight it was Jascha Pettit with the power play score.
Just like Friday night, Gustavus was able to build some momentum with a strong finish at the end of the second period. With an extra attacker on the ice due to a delayed penalty, sophomore forward Cory Belisle was able to knock home an Adam Smyth rebound to cut the lead to 3-1. It was Belisle’s first goal in a Gustie sweater since transferring to Gustavus at the start of January.
The momentum took a major shift :28 seconds later when freshman defenseman Nate Paulsen sent a no-doubt one-timer into the back of the net from the top of the left circle, cutting the lead to 3-2 heading into the second intermission. Paulsen finished the game with two more assists for a team-high three points.
John Haeg took the wind out of Gustavus’ sails at the 9:07 mark of the third period with an unassisted goal after beating goalie John McLean five-hole for the game-winner (4-2).
“The slow start hurt us,” said sophomore forward Adam Smyth. “We tried to battle back, but it was too little, too late.
With McLean on the bench to add an extra attacker, Adam Smyth brought the Gusties to within one at 4-3 with a tip-in goal at 18:59. With the net empty, Gustavus would not get a good look at a game-tying chance in the final minute of regulation.
The Gusties outshot the Johnnies 25-to-19 in the contest. John McLean (9-4-0) suffers his first since Dec. 2 and sees his win-streak end at eight games. McLean stopped 15-of-19 shots tonight in the loss.
J.D. Wells picked up his first victory of the season for the Johnnies, making season-high 22 saves.
Gustavus went 1-for-2 on the power play with three shots, while Saint John’s went 1-for-3 with two shots. The Gusties controlled the dots for the second-straight night, going 42-and-27 on face-offs. Ryan Johnson led the way on the draw, winning 16-of-20.
“We have to have a good week of practice next week. We’re hitting our bye week so we have 13 days until our next game,” added Smyth. “We are going to have to work hard and fix the things we’re doing wrong right now.”
The Gusties will be back on the ice Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28 in a home series against Concordia College. Friday night’s game will take place at 7:05 p.m., while Saturday’s contest will begin at 2:05 p.m.