With two points at stake, and a spot in the MIAC Playoffs in the balance, the Gustavus coaching staff said that it was going to be gut check time for the men’s hockey team on Saturday night in Winona, Minn. Although it took until the third period to show up on the scoreboard, the Gusties answered the call, scoring three unanswered goals, two of which on the power play, with less than five-minutes remaining to defeat Saint Mary’s 4-1.
The Gusties picked up three points on the weekend, moving into a three-way tie second place in the conference standings alongside St. Olaf and Saint John’s with 16 points. Gustavus is now 13-6-4 overall and 7-5-2 in the MIAC. Saint Mary’s drops to 4-17-2 overall and 1-11-2 in the MIAC with the loss.
Gustavus took an early first period lead when Alex Galllen hit the back of the net off a Ryan Johnson assist at the 5:45 mark. The goal is Gallen’s first in a Gustavus sweater since joining the club at the beginning of January.
The Cardinals were able to tie game at 1-1 at the 4:55 mark of the second period, taking advantage of their first power play opportunity. Kevin Wentland scored the power play goal on assists from Nick Nagel and Austin Balko.
Wentland’s goal would be Saint Mary’s last of the game, as the Gusties went on to kill six straight Cardinal power plays in the second and third periods.
After 30-minutes of scoreless hockey, Gustavus took advantage of a five-minute major penalty assessed to Wentland for contact to the head. Gustavus’ Ryan Johnson broke the ice at the 15:06 mark of the third period with the first of two power play goals. Johnson’s score turned out to be the game-winner, his first of the season. Tim LaBombard and Ross Ring-Jarvi were credited with the assists on the goal.
Still on the man-advantage, LaBombard got into the scoring mix less than two minutes later, burying his first goal of the season at 17:01 to put the Gusties on top 3-1.
Both Gustavus and Saint Mary’s registered eight penalties for 27-minutes on the night. The Gusties finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Cardinals ended up 1-for-7.
Ring-Jarvi added the cherry on top with an empty-netter at the 18:32 mark, extending the lead to 4-1 and putting to rest any comeback hopes.
Gustavus netminder Tyler Venne recorded his first victory since Nov. 11, 2011 in a superb complete-game performance. Venne stopped 21-of-22 shots in the game, improving to 2-2-3 on the season.
Jason Horstman suffered the loss for the Cardinals, allowing three goals and recording 29 saves. Horstman is now 2-9-1 on the year.
Gustavus outshot Saint Mary’s 33-to-22 in the contest. Eleven of Gustavus’ 33 shots came while on the power play, a season-high mark.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will travel to Northfield, Minn. to take on St. Olaf on Friday, Feb. 17 for the opening contest of the last series of the regular season. Face-off is set for 7:30 p.m. Gustavus just needs one point to secure a spot in MIAC post-season play.