St. Peter, Minn. – Déjà vu reared its ugly head at Don Roberts Ice Rink on Friday night, as the Gustavus men’s hockey team saw another multi-goal lead evaporate in the third period. With just :36 seconds remaining and an extra attacker on the ice, Saint Mary’s forward Braden Rahman was able to score the game-tying goal, allowing the Cardinals to come away with a point in a 4-4 tie.
With the tie, Gustavus moves to 12-6-4 overall and 6-5-2 in the MIAC heading into tomorrow’s series finale. Saint Mary’s moves to 4-16-2 overall and 1-10-2 in the MIAC.
Tonight’s tie, although not as painful on the scoresheet, was reminiscent of Gustavus’ 4-4 tie with Concordia (Jan. 27) in which the Gusties gave up four third period goals. The Gusties are now 1-1-4 in games that go into overtime.
Sophomore forward Gustav Bengtson led the Gusties with a season-high two goals in the contest. Bengtson put the Gusties on the board first with a goal at the 1:43 mark of the first period. “Goose” was able to dangle his way past a defender at the Cardinal goal line, get free in the low slot and fire the puck past Andy Scheib. Bengtson later scored at the 13:15 mark of the third period, putting the Gusties up 4-2. Linemate Zach May found Bengtson going to the net with a no-look pass from behind the net and Goose was able to put the puck past Scheib through the five hole. May was credited with the first assist on both Bengtson goals.
Following a too many players on the ice penalty at 13:59 of the first period, Saint Mary’s capitalized on the power play when Kevin Wentland tied the game at 1-1 on a screened shot five minutes left in the period.
It didn’t take Gustavus long to respond, as Ilya Kravtchouk gave the Gusties back the lead at 2-1 with a shot from the left point that trickled over Scheib’s shoulder and into the goal. Kravtchouk’s goal, which came at the 15:13 mark, was his first of the season.
Just :26 seconds after the Kravtchouk tally, Adam Smyth was able to give the Gusties a 3-1 lead with a low-lining wrister from the right circle. Smyth, who has scored a goal in two-straight games, now has 10 goals on the season, matching Zach May for the team lead.
The Gusties went into the locker rooms for the first intermission up 3-1 and outshooting the Cardinals 15-6.
“We got off to a pretty good start in the first period by putting up three, but still, there were times when our feet weren’t moving and Saint Mary’s was really taking the play to us,” said assistant coach Jared Phillips. “From that point on, unfortunately our feet weren’t moving long enough, fast enough, and were weren’t really able to sustain anything.”
The second period would remain scoreless until Cardinal Austin Balko cut the lead to 3-2 with a rebound goal at the 18:33 point of the period.
Gustavus was able to stifle Saint Mary’s momentum at the 4:45 mark of the period when Bengtson tallied his second goal of the game.
It would take nearly ten minutes for the Cardinals to cut the lead to one (4-3), as Nick Gorup found a way squeeze the puck past Gustavus netminder John McLean from a tight angle at the bottom of the right circle. The goal, one that McLean would likely want back, came at the 13:15 mark.
The Cardinals decided to pull their goaltender with 18:50 on the clock. Saint Mary’s had trouble establishing the zone and only recorded one shot with the net empty. Unfortunately for Gustavus, that one shot turned out to be the equalizer. Nate Peterson carried the puck to the right circle, firing a shot through traffic that was saved by the left leg pad of McLean. The rebound bounced out cleanly to the slot where Braden Rahman, a.k.a Johnny on the spot, was able to lift the puck over a mass of bodies and into the back of the net.
McLean finished the game with a total of 27 saves while allowing four goals. He moves to 11-4-1 on the year with the tie. McLean’s counterpart Andy Scheib allowed four goals and made 31 saves, moving to 2-8-1.
Dane Erickson, Ross Ring-Jarvi, Cory Belisle, and Alex Gallen all registered assists in the game, as Gustavus held the shot advantage 35-31 in the contest. Saint Mary’s went 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Gusties were shut out on just one power play try.
“We have to find a way to come out strong in the first period. We can’t use the bus excuse because everybody has to make the long bus trip down to Winona,” said coach Phillips about tomorrow night’s game. “Its really going to be a gut check to see what kind of players we have and what type of character this group has.”
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will take on Saint Mary’s in the season finale on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the SMU Ice Arena in Winona, Minn.