The Gustavus coaching staff said that the squad turned in its best week of practice to date leading up to tonight’s contest with Augsburg College. The Gustie skaters translated that week of hard work into its best game of the season, defeating the Auggies 6-0 after a four-goal third period in the series opener on Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink.
Gustavus improves to 3-4-2 overall and 2-3-0 in the MIAC with the win, while Augsburg falls to 3-5-0 overall and 1-2-0 in the MIAC.
“With only two more conference games before Christmas break and January, we really wanted to come out and make a statement and get points this weekend,” said assistant coach Jared Phillips. “Overall, we are pretty pleased with how it went. We had some ups-and-downs, but to score four goals in the third period is really good for this group and we are very pleased with that.”
Zach May and Andy Pearson’s names graced the scoresheet early and often tonight, as the Burnsville High School products combined for seven points in the game. May scored two goals and added one assist, while Pearson notched a goal and provided three assists.
“A lot of chemistry with Andy,” commented May on the relationship between him and his linemate Pearson. “I’ve played with him since I was a freshman in high school, so we know each other really well. But it started with battles in the corners and working hard.”
Hard work along the near boards and perfectly timed centering pass by Mark Jackson to Jack Walsh led to a breakaway goal and eventual game-winner for the rookie Walsh at the 14:13 mark of the period. Walsh took the pass in the clear and after several dekes tucked the puck under the pads of Auggie goalie Justin Lochner.
The Gusties benefited from more hard work in the offensive end when May made it a two-goal game at the 11:40 mark of the second period when he put back a Pearson rebound that came free in the right slot. Gustavus outshot the Auggies 22-to-17 through the opening 40 minutes.
The Gusties had previously struggled to put a complete-game together leading up to tonight. “I’m not sure that it will turn out to be a complete-game after we watch the film, but we played much closer to a full game than we did previously this season,” commented Phillips. “We took some strides tonight and I’m happy to see the guys get rewarded for their effort.”
Ross Ring-Jarvi started the third period scoring onslaught with a goal from inside the left circle at the 6:25 mark of the period, putting Gustavus up 3-0. If you blinked, you probably missed it, as Ring-Jarvi gave Lochner little chance to get the blocker up with a lightning-quick snap shot the sailed into the top left corner of the net.
Just :11 seconds later, May found Pearson on a rush up the right side off the ensuing faceoff. Pearson beat Lochner far side to give the Gusties a 4-0 advantage.
Zach May then put in a backhander on a 2-on-1 break at the 16:43 mark for his second goal of the game, giving Gustavus a 5-0 lead. Gustavus’ top line of Ross Ring-Jarvi, Zach May, and Any Pearson accounted four a combined nine points on the night.
Gustav Bengtson brought the game to a final at 6-0 after putting home a rebound wrister at the 18:29 mark. The goal by Bengtson was his first since Nov. 4 against St. Norbert. Gustavus outshot Augsburg 18-to-7 in the third period and 40-to-24 in the game.
Although Gustavus went 0-for-3 with two shots on the power play, the Gustie penalty killers evened out the special teams category by blanking the Auggies on five power play tries.
“Tonight I thought we did a better job on special teams. We worked a lot on how to defend their zone entry and retrieving dumped pucks and I think that was a big improvement over what we saw against the Tommies,” said Phillips on the play of Gustavus’ special teams units. “We still have some areas where we have some problems handling the puck, but we did a good job from preventing them from getting set up and getting clean looks.”
Gustavus rookie goaltender John McLean handled his first Friday night game at Don Roberts Ice Rink like veteran, stopping all 24 shots on the way to the first collegiate shutout of his career. McLean is now 2-3-0 on the year and has a goals against average of 1.99 and a save percentage of .928 after tonight.
“Big John played great. We commented that he looked calm and poised especially at times when the rest of us didn’t. He’s definitely seen a lot of games like that with his experience and background, and for him to be a calm and steady presence behind our D is big for this team,” said Phillips.
Gustavus will travel to Minneapolis for the series finale tomorrow night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at Ed Saugestad Rink.
“We have to continue to bring the same intensity tomorrow as we did tonight, especially to open the game,” added Phillips. “Augsburg plays much different at home than they do on the road, so we have to go in expecting to play a one-goal game.”
In five career games against Augsburg, Zach May has scored seven goals and three assists for a total of 10 points…Gustavus’ last 6-0 victory came on Feb. 20, 2010 against Saint Mary’s University in Winona, Minn…Andy Pearson’s four-point game is the first since Ross Ring-Jarvi scored four points (1G, 3A) in a 5-4 win over Bethel on Nov. 20, 2010.