Forget about the Gusties’ 1-17-1 record in the National Hockey Center the past 19 seasons, or their eight-game losing-streak on the road to the Johnnies. Forget about the 3-0 lead Saint John’s had halfway through the second period, or Gustavus’ 0-for-4 night on the power play. Those things mattered not in the end, as the Gustavus men’s hockey team was able to score four unanswered goals, three of which came in the third period, on the way to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Johnnies in St. Cloud, Minn.
“We capitalized on opportunities, John made a couple of big saves when he had to and we are on the bus with a win,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “We’re very fortunate to get out of Dodge with two points tonight.”
No. 15 Gustavus improves its winning-streak to eight games with the victory, moving to 10-4-2 overall and 4-3-0 in the MIAC. Saint John’s has now dropped five straight and is 3-9-2 overall and 1-4-0 in the MIAC.
The Gusties fell behind early after a pair of first period goals by the Johnnies. Jascha Pettit gave Saint John’s a 1-0 lead a 6:38 and Trent Johnson extended the lead to 2-0 at 13:59.
A holding penalty assessed to Ross Ring-Jarvi halfway through the second period led to the lone power play goal of the game at the 11:02 mark. Just like that, Gustavus’ National Hockey Center nightmares appeared to be creeping in. Joe Harren tallied the power play goal to put Saint John’s up 3-0.
Zach May was able to send the Gusties into the second intermission with some momentum after he scored a goal off assists from Andy Person and Ilya Kravtchouk at 17:05, cutting the lead to 3-1. May currently leads the team in goals with eight.
“We didn’t play very good early and Saint John’s did. It looked like all our previous years in St. Cloud to start,” remarked Petersen. “I don’t know why, but a light bulb went on in the third period and we played like the team that had been showing up since Thanksgiving.”
May returned the favor to his linemate Pearson 4:41 seconds into the third period, cutting the lead to 3-2. Ring-Jarvi had the second assist on the play, as Gustavus’ top line accounted for five points on the night.
Ryan Johnson completed the comeback with a goal at the 16:32 mark of the frame, tying the game at 3-3 off assists from Dane Erickson and Sam Smith. The goal was Johnson’s first since Dec. 9, 2011 against Concordia (Wis.).
Less than a minute later, it was Gustav Bengtson bringing the night’s scoring to a close with the unassisted game-winner at 17:03. The goal by Bengtson was also a slump-buster as he nets his first goal since Dec. 2 against Augsburg. It is the sophomore’s first game-winner of the season and second of his career.
“It’s good to get “Goose” back on track. We need him in our lineup so hopefully a game-winner like this can jump-start him,” said Petersen.
Goaltender John McLean picked up the win in his eighth-straight complete-game victory. McLean made 14 saves and is now 9-3-0 on the season.
Gustavus outshot the Johnnies 24-to-17 in the game and 13-to-4 in the third period. The Gusties also held the face-off advantage, going 39-and-24. Pearson led the way on the dots by winning 12-of-16 draws.
Petersen said of the type of game that, “Its really hard on a big ice sheet to generate chances, so I think you’ll see a little better hockey game tomorrow night.”
“It certainly wasn’t pretty tonight, but give our guys credit for coming back and grinding out a win,” Petersen continued. “I’m pleased with the way we finished and hope we can carry it over to tomorrow.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will look for its second MIAC sweep of the season in the series finale tomorrow night in Don Roberts Ice Rink. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.