The Gustavus men’s hockey team jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Ben Ollila midway through the second period, but UW-Stevens Point countered with two goals in the next seven minutes and held on for a 2-1 win over the Gusties at Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter on Friday night. Gustavus falls to 6-6-0 on the season, while UW-Stevens Point improves to 9-5-1. The Gusties will host Marian College on Saturday night at 7:05 pm.
The two teams played to a scoreless first period, although the Pointers controlled play through most of the period and out-shot the Gusties 13-4. UW-Stevens Point junior forward Andy Cankar had the best opportunity of the period as he found himself all alone 15 feet in front of the net with four minutes left on the clock. Cankar uncorked a slapshot that whistled past Gustavus netminder Matt Lopes but caromed off the crossbar and back out past the Gustie blue line.
In the second period, both squads appeared to shake off the rust of not having played for three weeks as the passing and movement improved greatly. Gustavus lit the lamp first when senior forward Ben Ollila found the puck on his stick as he was streaking to the right side of the net. He quickly skated across the front of the crease and knocked a backhanded shot past goaltender Thomas Speer who was unable to match Ollila’s speed across the front of the net. Ollila’s power play goal came at the 8:43 mark with assists from Tim Ornell and Casey Dynan. UW-Stevens Point knotted the score at 1-1 just three minutes later when Taylor Guay tallied a power play goal at the 11:22 mark. Assists were credited to Jonathan Ralph and Josh Calleja. Four minutes later as Gustavus was putting good pressure on the Pointer defense, Speer came up with an outstanding save and the Pointers quickly counterattacked getting the puck to Pat Lee on the left wing. Lee skated in one-on-one against Lopes and slipped the puck through the five-hole giving UW-Stevens Point a 2-1 lead at the 15:29 mark. Ralph and Cankar were credited with the assists. The Pointers took their 2-1 lead into the locker room at the end of the second period.
UW-Stevens Point made its 2-1 lead stand up as it shut the Gusties down in the third period. The Pointers held a slim 7-6 lead in shots although Gustavus probably had the better of the scoring opportunities. UW-Stevens Point dropped a forward into center ice and played very defensively to protect its one goal lead which proved to be very effective.
Pointer goaltender Tom Speer, who recorded 19 saves including several acrobatic stops, improved to 7-2-1 on the season, while Gustavus netminder Matt Lopes was the hard luck loser turning away 23 shots.
Gustavus falls to 2-3 on the season against the NCHA and all three losses have been by one goal. UW-Stevens Point improves to 4-1 against MIAC opponents.
The Gusties will wrap up the weekend with a game against Marian College on Saturday, Jan. 5 at Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter. The puck will drop at 7:05 pm.