The Gustavus men’s hockey team scored the first goal of the game, but fell to Neumann College 4-1 in the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship game on Saturday at Herb Brooks Ice Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. David Martinson tallied his 26th goal of the season at 4:54 in the first period to give the Gusties a 1-0 lead. However, Neumann would go on to score four consecutive goals en route to the win. Gustavus, which finished the season at 19-11-0, was making its first appearance in the NCAA Championship game. Patrick Dynan was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team.
Martinson lit the lamp for Gustavus at 4:54 in the first period when he banked a shot off of Neumann goaltender Ross MacKinnon’s back from behind the goal line after he came out of the crease. Brad Wieck earned an assist on the goal as he put the initial shot on net. After a penalty against the Gusties, Ryan Heickert tied the score for the Knights when he deflected a shot by Sean Bianchini from the right point past Gustavus goaltender Matthew Lopes at the 12:52 mark. Both teams skated into the first intermission with the score tied 1-1 despite the Gusties outshooting Neumann 8-3.
The Knights turned up the pressure on Gustavus in its defensive zone in the second period. The increased intensity resulted in a backhand goal by Jesse Cole that trickled between Lopes’ five-hole as the Gusties failed to clear a rebound out of the zone to give Neumann a 2-1 lead at 3:06 in the frame. Minutes later, the Knights capitalized on an error by the Gustavus defense creating a two-on-one breakaway. Ryan Heickert brought the puck up the right side of the rink and maintained control of the puck long enough to draw the Gustie defenseman. Heickert found Jesse Cole at the left faceoff circle for a wrist shot that beat Lopes on the blocker side to give Neumann at 3-1 lead at 6:53. A Gustie penalty led to the Knights’ fourth goal of the game when a blast from Marlon Gardner at the center of the blue line got through a screen at 10:37.
Gustavus had several opportunities to score in the final minute, but came up empty in the effort. Eric Bigham had the best chance as he took a shot that hit the right pipe, then went off MacKinnon’s back and trickled to the right side of the rink out of the reach of the Gustie forwards ready for the rebound. Gustavus trailed 4-1 heading into the final period as Neumann held a 16-8 advantage with shots on goal for the period.
The Knights cut off the passing lanes in the final period as they were able to sag in the defensive zone with the three-goal lead. Neumann was whistled for too many men on the ice at 14:47. With a three-goal deficit, Coach Brett Petersen pulled Lopes for an additional skater on the ensuing faceoff for the duration of the game. However, the Gusties were only able to put one quality shot on net with the advantage as Neumann claimed the 4-1 victory.
Gustavus netminder Matt Lopes made 18 saves on 22 shots on goal as he ended the season with an 11-5-0 record. Neumann goaltender Ross MacKinnon, the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament, stopped 24 shots and allowed one goal. Each squad was whistled for five penalties as the Gusties were 0-for-5 with the extra attacker and the Knights were 2-for-5.
ADDITIONAL GAME NOTES
– David Martinson’s goal increased his single-season total to 26, moving him into a four-way tie for 10th place on the Gustavus all-time single-season list. It is the highest single-season goal total recorded by a Gustie since 1995-96 whne Jason Lesteberg tallied 26 goals.
– The second goal scored by Neumann at 3:06 in the second period marked the first time in 190:59 that Gustavus trailed in a contest. The streak dates back to March 4 when Hamline held a lead in the first period before the Gusties came back to win 5-2.