St. Peter, Minn. – After a pair of slow starts against Saint John’s in its last outing, the Gustavus men’s hockey team wanted to use its bye week as a fresh start and jump on Concordia from the drop of the puck Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Mission accomplished on that front, as Gustavus took a 4-0 lead into the third period.
“The first 40-minutes were what we’ve been looking for,” said Assistant Coach Jared Phillips on Gustavus’ strong start. “That was very nice to see coming out of the gates and coming off a very disappointing loss to Saint John’s before our bye week. It was very important to get off to that fast start tonight.”
Gustavus’ worst nightmares came true in the third period, as the Cobbers began to slowly but surely claw their way back into the game. Trailing 4-2 with less than two minutes to play, Concordia found the back of the net twice in the remaining minutes to force overtime with the score tied 4-4. Neither team could find the game-winner in the extra session, as they both picked up a point in the tie.
Gustavus moves to 10-5-3 overall and 4-4-1 in the MIAC, while Concordia is now 8-8-4 overall and 4-4-3 in the MIAC.
Zach May gave the Gusties a 1-0 lead at the 9:54 mark of the first period on a goal from linemates Andy Person and Ross Ring-Jarvi. A centering pass from behind the net made its way through traffic in front and happened upon the stick of May who then buried the puck into an empty net for the opening goal.
Following May’s goal, a sprawling rebound save by Gustavus goaltender Tyler Venne kept the Cobbers from tying the game. Venne’s save built the momentum that lifted Gustavus to its second goal of the contest. Pearson was able to dig the puck off the near boards and get it to May in the slot. May patiently waited for the defense to commit to him before sending a pass to a wide-open Ross Ring-Jarvi, who, from the top of the left circle, sent a blazing one-timer into the back of the net. Ring-Jarvi’s goal came at the 12:44 mark of the period.
Gustavus took a 2-0 lead into the locker room for the first intermission.
Ring-Jarvi tallied his second goal of the game at the 1:09 mark of the second period when he re-directed an Andrew Peterson wrister from the high-slot past Cobber goaltender Andrew Kelly.
Gustavus’ final goal of the game would come when May redirected home a shot from Pearson at the 13:53 point of the period.
The “Ringo Line” of Ross Ring-Jarvi (2G, 1A), Zach May (2G, 1A), and Andy Pearson (2A) combined for eight points on the night.
“That’s why those guys play together and for them to produce like that was part of the success we had early,” said Phillips.
“All three of those guys were disappointed in how things went in the Saint John’s series and for them to come out to play the way they did tonight was a testament how hard they worked during the week.”
Although Gustavus was 9-0-1 when leading after two periods heading into the game, tonight proved that anything can happen in the MIAC.
A goal by Dan Hrabowych at the 2:06 mark of the third period was the spark the Cobbers needed to stage a comeback. Up until that point, Venne looked to be unbeatable, stopping all 21 of the first shots he faced.
The Cobbers would not score again until the 11:54 mark when Aaron Wheeler picked up a loose puck up at center ice, skated it up the near boards and to the goal line before cutting in front of the net and beating Venne five-hole to cut the lead to 4-2.
If there was any doubt whose bench the momentum was on heading into the final two minutes, there was no doubt when Erick Galt cut the lead to 4-3 when his slap shot found its way through a screen at the 18:11 mark.
With an empty net and less than a minute on the clock, Concordia completed the four-goal comeback when Braden Rahman used a screen to tally the equalizer at 19:24. The Cobbers, whom had scored four goals in an entire game just twice previous to this evening, had registered four unanswered goals in the third period alone.
“We looked scared and were playing a prevent type of defense,” commented coach Phillips on the third period. “We didn’t want to get beat and were weren’t trying to move forward and score the next goal. They got us on our heels for probably 19-of-20 minutes and its disappointing that we weren’t ready to finish this game.
After a hard-fought trip back from a lower body injury, Gustavus netminder Tyler Venne was between the pipes for the first time since Dec. 18, 2011 tonight. The sophomore went all 65-minutes, allowing four goals and making 29 saves. Venne is now 1-1-3 overall with the tie.
“Tyler Venne was the reason we were up 2-0 at the end of the first and 4-0 at the end of the second. For his first game coming off injury, Tyler was the Tyler of old, playing the way he was before the injury. It was frustrating that we couldn’t reward him for his effort,” said Phillips.
After allowing four goals and making 14 saves, Concordia goalie Kelly Andrew was pulled after 34:40 minutes. Chris Neamonitis took his place and shut the Gusties out for the remainder the game, finishing with 13 saves.
Concordia outshot Gustavus 33-to-31 in the contest. Neither team could score on the power play, as Gustavus went 0-for-3 and Concordia went 0-for-2.
Gustavus and Concordia will square off in the series finale tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m in Don Roberts Ice Rink. Tomorrow’s game is designated as Parents Day.