The Gustavus men’s hockey team fell to Bethel University 4-1 Friday night in St. Peter. The Royals scored just 2:17 into the game to take a lead they would not relinquish. Gustavus falls to 12-5-1 overall, 7-2-0 in the MIAC. The teams will meet again Saturday evening at Columbia Arena in Fridley.
The game’s opening goal, scored by Royals freshman Nick Miller, was assisted by Dan McCauley and Ryan Adams. The Royals extended the lead to 2-0 with under two minutes to play in the period when Jeff Balvin poked a shot past Gustie goalie Erik Kraska (Sr., Plymouth, Minn.).
Despite a very physical first period, the game’s first penalty wasn’t handed down until the 1:47 mark of the second period when Gustavus forward was whistled for roughing. The Gusties killed the penalty, but were unable to keep the Royals out of the net during the frame, allowing a goal by Brent Kettlekamp with just over nine minutes to play to fall behind 3-0.
Gustavus finally erased the zero from the scoreboard at the 11:21 mark of the second period when Kyle Rohlfs (So., Fergus Falls, Minn.) converted an even-strength opportunity off assists from Josh Gaw (Jr., Burr Ridge, Ill.) and Jay Phillips (Jr., Bemidji, Minn.).
The Gusties had a huge opportunity to get back into the game fall by the wayside when Sami Idris (So., Stockholm, Sweden) missed a wide-open net with eight minutes to play.
Down a pair of goals down the stretch, the Gusties were forced to pull Kraska in order to field an extra skater. The plan backfired, though, as Bethel’s Kent Bostrom poked a shot toward the net from the blue line that trickled just inside the left post.
The Gusties were outshot 45-30 during the game, with Kraska making 41 saves in the loss. He falls to 10-3-1 on the season. Dustin Thompson picked up the win for Bethel, allowing one goal and picking up 29 saves. Only two penalties were called during the contest despite very physical play on both ends.
Action moves to Fridley’s Columbia Arena for Saturday’s series-ending game. The puck will drop at approximately 7:05 p.m.