The Gustavus men’s hockey team moved into a tie for first place in the MIAC with a 5-3 victory over St. Thomas on Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. The Gusties grabbed a 4-0 lead early and held on late, as seven different Gustavus players registered at least a point in the contest. Dane Erickson and Ryan Johnson each had one goal and one assist, while Tim LaBombard and Brad Wieck recorded two assists.
With the victory, Gustavus improves to 7-2-1 overall and 3-1-1 in the MIAC, while St. Thomas falls to 6-4-0 overall and 3-2-0 in the MIAC.
“I thought we handled the break really well. The guys came back rested and hungry, and we had a terrific week of practice, which was demonstrated in how we came out in the first period,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “I think the break came at a really good time for us because with so many young guys we hit a little bit of a way.”
The Gusties looked well rested as they came out firing to start the game, out-shooting St. Thomas 12-3 within the first 12 minutes of the game. After killing a Tommie power play at the 7:46 mark, Gustavus gained momentum with two power-play goals following a major penalty and game-misconduct assessed to Matt Lipinksi at the 12:29 mark. Gustav Bengstson put Gustavus up 1-0 with a rebound goal at the 13:43 mark, and Shael Hechter extended the lead to 2-0 with another rebound put-back less than a minute later.
Following another killed penalty by the Gusties late in the first period, a Ross Ring-Jarvi centering pass from the bottom of the right circle ricocheted off the back of a Tommie defender, surprising goaltender Geoff Sadjadi and finding the back of the net to put Gustavus up 3-0 heading into the locker rooms. The Gusties outshot St. Thomas 21-7 and killed three penalties in the first period.
Gustavus kept the pressure on at the start of the second period when Ryan Johnson picked out the top left corner with a snap-shot from the left slot at the 2:30 mark to give the Gusties a 4-0 advantage. St. Thomas would not go quietly, as the Tommies scored two goals in the middle of the period to cut the lead to 4-2. Rob Phillip scored on the power play at the 9:17 mark and Mac Williams added an unassisted goal at the 12:18 mark.
With just seven seconds left in the period, Gustavus’s Dane Erickson snapped a back-hander from a sharp angle just above the goal line left of the net, burying the puck in the corner to give the Gusties a 5-2 lead.
“Our top line played really well tonight. They really set the tone for the team and game,” commented Petersen.
The Ring-Jarvi, Erickson, and Wieck line combined to go +5 with 14 shots, two goals and two assists on the night.
The Gusties killed two early St. Thomas power plays in the third period, as the Tommies went on to out-shoot Gustavus 12-7 in the third period. Rob Johnson added the final goal of the game at the 18:52 mark, making the score final at 5-3.
Although goaltender Josh Swartout was not tested with difficult shots early, he made the saves when they mattered most. Swartout allowed two goals and made 26 saves in a full 60:00 minutes in nets, improving to 4-2-1 on the season. Sadjadi suffered the loss for St. Thomas, allowing four goals and making 18 saves in 22:30 minutes. Tyrone Simcoe allowed one goal and made 17 saves in 36:49 minutes.
“St. Thomas had some guys out due to sickness, and with their long bus ride we wanted to jump on them early,” said Petersen. “This is a big win for our guys. Tomorrow night up there we will face a different St. Thomas team and we’ll see how we respond.”
Gustavus outshot St. Thomas 40-29 in the game. The Gusties were 2-for-5 on the power play, while St. Thomas was 2-for-7.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will travel to Mendota Heights, Minn. tomorrow for the final game of the series with St. Thomas. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.