The Gustavus men’s hockey team scored four unanswered goals in the second and third period to defeat Saint John’s 5-1 on Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter. Eric Bigham led the Gusties with two goals as Head Coach Brett Petersen’s squad won its fifth straight game. The Johnnies held a 31-25 advantage in shots, but goaltender Josh Swartout kept the Gusties in the game making 30 saves. Gustavus improved to 13-7-0 overall and 8-3-0 in the MIAC. Saint John’s fell to 5-12-1 overall and 2-6-1 in league play.
After a scoreless first period where neither team had quality scoring chances, the Johnnies turned up the intensity in the second period. Gustavus goaltender Josh Swartout came up with two key saves on point blank shots in the first three minutes to keep the score tied. Saint John’s continued to pressure the Gusties throughout the period until the Gusties’ Ryan Noonan forced a turnover in the Johnnies’ zone. David Martinson picked up the loose puck and wristed a shot into the top right corner of the net for his 23rd goal of the season at 13:25 in the frame.
The scoring quickly picked up from that point. Seconds later, Saint John’s forward Jake Koehler threw the puck on net as Swartout made the initial save. However, a Gustie defenseman batted the puck out of the air and into the net as the Johnnies evened the game at 1-1. Gustavus answered back on the next shift when Eric Bigham skated past the defender on the left side of the ice and across the crease to put the Gusties up 2-1 at the 14:25 mark.
Head Coach Brett Petersen’s squad started the third period with increased energy that resulted in a goal by Patrick Dynan after receiving a pass from brothers Rory and Casey at 2:45. Gustavus extended its lead to 4-1 after Eric Bigham scored his second goal of the game. Linemate James Leathers had a shot stopped by Saint John’s goaltender Vince Wheeler, but Bigham pounced on the rebound with an open net.
The Johnnies had chances to cut the lead during the frame, but Swartout came up with big saves to keep Saint John’s off the scoreboard. The Gusties added their last goal of the game late in the period as Rory Dynan picked off a pass in the Johnnies’ end. Wheeler made the first save, but Casey Dynan was there to flip the rebound into the back of the net as Gustavus skated to the 5-1 victory.
Josh Swartout turned in a fine performance between the pipes making 30 saves, including 13 in the final period, as he improved his season mark to 7-4-0 overall. Vince Wheeler stopped 20 shots for the Johnnies in the losing effort as his overall record dropped to 5-7-1.
The series will continue on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the National Sports Center in St. Cloud.