Mendota Heights, Minn. - The Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team saw its 11-game conference unbeaten-streak come to an end in heartbreaking fashion against the University of St. Thomas on Friday night at the St. Thomas Ice Arena. After battling back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 2-2 early in the third period, St. Thomas scored the game-winning goal in the 18th minute and later added an empty-netter to come away with a 4-2 victory.
With the victory, St. Thomas earns three points in the conference standings and now has a four point lead over second place Gustavus with 36 points at 11-0-2 in the MIAC and 17-3-2 overall. With the loss – their first in seven games – the Gusties drop to 10-2-1 in the MIAC and 13-5-4 overall.
St. Thomas got on the scoreboard first with a goal at the 10:57 mark of the first period by Jordan Lovick.
With a 1-0 advantage after 20 minutes, the Tommies extended their lead to two goals at the 14:47 mark when Connor McBride scored unassisted.
Less than four minutes after McBride’s goal, senior captain Corey Leivermann (North Mankato, Minn.) got the Gustie offense going with the first of his two goals. Leivermann cut the lead to 2-1 on assists from Tyler Lapic (Jr., New Prague, Minn.) and Jared Docken (Fr., Northfield, Minn.) at the 18:42 mark, then at 4:16 of the third period, completed the comeback with his second goal of the night – diving and knocking in a bouncing centering pass from Jack Walsh (Jr., Mahtomedi, Minn.) between the circles. With two goals tonight, Leivermann now has a team-leading 15 goals on the season and has scored two goals in a game on three occasions.
Gustavus dictated play for much of the third period following Leivermann’s equalizer. Despite the momentum swing, St. Thomas was able to put the puck past Gustie netminder John McLean (So., Eagan, Minn.) at the 17:44 mark. Tommie Alex Niestrom scored the game-winning goal and later added the empty-netter to bring the game to a final.
Gustavus had a 29-21 shots advantage thanks to a strong second period during which the Gusties tallied 15 shots compared to St. Thomas’s eight.
Only three penalties were called all night, as Gustavus went 0-for-2 on the power play and St. Thomas finished 0-for-1.
McLean suffers his first loss since Jan. 11 and is now 12-4-4. He stopped 17-of-20 shots over the course of 59:24 minutes. On the other end of the ice, Drew Fielding earned the win after stopping 27-of-29 shots.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will look to earn a split on Saturday night when the series finale comes to Don Roberts Ice Rink for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.