It is hard to imagine a more fitting end to Senior Night than senior Mitch Carlson stepping up at the top of the circle and burying home the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Gustavus men’s hockey team a 5-4 victory in the regular season finale on Saturday night in St. Peter, Minn. The game-winner, Carlson’s second of his career and first in overtime, capped off a three-point weekend for the veteran blueliner. Gustavus was able to come away with a series split and two points to close the regular season.
“To have a senior scoring the game-winning goal on Senior Night is a great deal. I am really proud of the leadership these guys showed not only tonight but all season as well,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen.
Gustavus finishes the year in fourth place in the conference with an overall record of 14-9-2 and a MIAC record of 8-6-2. Saint Mary’s finishes its season 6-17-2 overall and 5-9-2 in the MIAC.
Just opposite of last night’s contest, it was Saint Mary’s getting out to a fast start in the opening period. The Cardinals got goals from Joey Nadeau, Nate Peterson, and Tommy Healy in the first period, hitting the back of the net three times in just five shots to lead 3-0 after one.
“It was tough early. We were outplaying them and just couldn’t capitalize,” said senior defensemen Matt Schugel.
Dane Erickson cut the lead to 3-1 at the 3:35 mark of the second period. Erickson found the loose puck on his stick in the high slot, back-handing it into the top right corner of the net. Saint Mary’s Nate Peterson got the goal back in the 15th minute on the power play to put the Cardinals back up three at 4-1. SMU was 2-for-2 on its first two power play tries of the game.
After going 0-for-3 on its first three power play attempts, Ryan Johnson was able to tip in a Mitch Carlson pass from the right point to cut the lead to 4-2 with just :33 seconds remaining in the second period. Johnson finished the weekend with three points (2G, 1A), as the Gusties outshot the Cardinals 19-to-5 in the second period.
Gustav Bengtson made it a one-goal game (4-3) with a low-lining wrister that beat Jason Horstman through the five-hole at 3:35 of the third period. Gustavus would put seven shots on Horstman, including one by Schugel that hit the right pipe, in the next eight minutes. Adam Smyth was able to finally get one past Horstman and tie the game at 4-4 (12:10) with a spinning wrister from the left circle. Neither squad could net the game-winner for the remaining minutes of regulation, as Gustavus had the edge in shots in the third period 15-to-5.
“I was pleased with how our guys kept chipping away down 3-0 and 4-1 in the game,” said Petersen. “Their goaltender played really good the whole weekend, and for this young group to hang in there the way did really makes us proud.”
Gustavus carried the momentum into overtime, tallying four shots on goal before the game-winner. A deflected shot by Henrik Reisvang ended up in open ice at the top of the right circle where Carlson was able to step up and bury it home with a slap shot through an open window for the victory.
“The pucks laying there and I just teed it up and the rest is history,” said a still shell-shocked Carlson about the game-winning goal. “They took a lead on us and it took a lot of character by our team to come back and stay in the game.”
The Gusties finished the game with a season-high 57 shots in the contest, while holding Saint Mary’s to a season-low 15. Gustavus was 1-for-6 on the power play, as the Cardinals were an efficient 2-for-3.
Despite allowing four goals and making 11 saves, goaltender Josh Swartout was able to persevere and hold on for the win. He improves to 10-8-2 and finishes the regular season with a goals against average of 2.68 and a save percentage of .897. Jason Horstman suffered the loss in what was a stellar 52-save performance. He finishes the season with a record of 5-13-2 in nets for the Cardinals.
With two more assists tonight, Ross Ring-Jarvi finishes the weekend with four points (1G, 3A). Mitch Carlson, who notched Gustavus’ first short-handed goal of the season last night, extends his point-streak to four games. He has scored a goal in three straight games and has five points in the last four bouts.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will play host to Augsburg in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs on Friday night at 8:00 p.m. in St. Peter, Minn. “A very familiar opponent [Augsburg], especially with what happened last year,” said Petersen. “They are obviously on a roll now, winning six in a row. It will be like every game this year; tight, tough, and lets just hope it doesn’t go as long as last year.”
As is tradition at Gustavus, the final home game of the regular season is designated as Senior Night. The Gustavus Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to the five seniors who have devoted themselves to the Gustie Hockey Program for the past several years. This year’s seniors include Mitch Carlson, Brad Wieck, Matt Schugel, Ryan Noonan, and Josh Swartout.
1. Mitch Carlson
2. Ross Ring-Jarvi
3. Gustav Bengtson