The Gustavus men’s hockey team saw its season come to a close Tuesday night with a 7-5 loss to Bethel in the MIAC Men’s Hockey Playoffs Play-In Game. The Gusties led 5-4 midway through the third period, but the Royals scored three unanswered goals to set up a date with top-seeded St. Thomas in the MIAC Semifinals Thursday night.
The Royals wasted little time getting on the board, taking a 1-0 lead 5:54 into the game on a goal by Dan Bonne. The Gusties responded 1:12 later with John Arundel (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) knotting the game at 1-1 on a wrist shot at the top of the circle. Arundel’s goal, unassisted, beat the Bethel goalie Dustin Thompson high on the blocker side. Bethel let only 35 seconds tick off the arena clock before regaining the lead as Ryan Adams scored unassisted to give the Royals a 2-1 lead. Nick Miller scored a power play goal with less than eight minutes to play in the period to put Bethel up a pair of goals at 3-1. Steven Jensen (Jr., Kentwood, Mich.) cut the lead in half with 5:13 to play before the first intermission, scoring a short-handed goal off an assist from Mike Carr (Fr., Mahtomedi, Minn.). Carr stole the puck at the Gustavus blue line and passed it off to Jensen, who directed it toward the Bethel net and past Thompson.
Trailing 3-2 returning from the first intermission, the Gusties quickly tied the game up as Jon Keseley (Jr., St. Louis Park, Minn.) scored on a short-handed goal 35 seconds into the period. Keseley’s shot beat Thompson to his left side between his blocker pad and his leg. The Royals’ Josiah Matuszewski pushed another goal past Gustavus goalie Erik Kraska (Plymouth, Minn.) at the 5:21 mark of the period to give the home team a 4-3 advantage. Mike Hosfield (Jr., Golden Valley, Minn.) erased that advantage with 3:03 to play before the second intermission with a slapshot. Hosfield’s goal, scored on the power play, found its way through traffic in front of the net and under the glove of Thompson.
The Gusties took their first lead of the game midway through the third period as Arundel scored his second goal of the game. The goal, scored from approximately the same spot on the ice as his first, beat Thompson between his legs. Bethel, playing in front of a frantic crowd at Columbia Arena, tied the game up on a power play goal by Neal Carlson with 4:14 remaining in the game. Another goal by Carlson 2:25 later gave the Royals a 6-5 advantage with only 1:49 showing on the clock.
Gustavus had one final scoring opportunity but could not convert. With Kraska vacating his crease to give the Gusties an extra attacker, Jensen found a seam in the Royal defense and took the shot. Thompson found himself out of position, but Jensen’s shot sailed harmlessly through the crease. Bethel sophomore defender Josiah Matuszewski picked up the loose puck and sent it toward the now-empty Gustavus net for the goal to give the Royals a 7-5 lead with only 14 second to play.
Thompson was credited with the win, picking up 31 saves in the process, while Kraska notched 23 saves while taking the loss. The Gusties outshot the Royals 36-30, but were only 1-of-3 on the power play. The Royals were only slightly more effective, converting on two of six chances with the extra skater.
Bethel moves on to face top-seeded St. Thomas in a MIAC Playoff Semifinal at 8 p.m. Thursday night in Mendota Heights. Gustavus closes out its season at 14-11-1. The Gusties dropped four straight and seven of their final ten games to end the season.