Green Bay, Wis. - “It just wasn’t meant to be tonight,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen, as the Gustavus men’s hockey team’s season came to an end with a 4-1 loss to a red-hot St. Norbert team on Saturday night in Green Bay, Wis. Despite being outshot 28-to-9 through 40-minutes, the Gusties trailed just 2-1 heading into the third period. Keeping the pressure on in the final frame, St. Norbert scored two unanswered goals to earn the three-goal victory.
With the win, the Green Knights punch their ticket to the NCAA Division III Frozen Four set to take place in Lake Placid, New York on March 16-17. St. Norbert improves to 19-5-5 with the win, while Gustavus finishes its 2011-12 campaign at 17-7-5.
“St. Norbert was better in every aspect tonight. They will represent the west well and my hat goes off to Tim and his program,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “I was disappointed with our competitive level tonight considering that has been our M.O. during the last couple of months. St. Norbert had a lot to do with that, but it just wasn’t there for some reason or another tonight.”
St. Norbert struck first at the 4:02 mark of the first period when Cullen Bradshaw scored his first of two goals on an easy tap-in rebound from the left of the crease.
After Chris Rial took a tripping penalty :43 seconds later, Tim LaBombard took advantage of a loose puck in the middle of the slot. Through a scramble in front of the net, LaBombard sent a wrister into the net at the 6:24 mark. LaBombard’s goal is his second of the season and first since Feb. 11 against Saint Mary’s.
From that point on, its safe to say that it was all St. Norbert. The Green Knights poured the pressure on in the remaining two periods, outshooting Gustavus 14-to-6 in the second period and 11-to-5 in the third, finishing with a 39-to-14 advantage in the game.
Bradshaw tallied the eventual game-winner at the tail end of a Gustavus power play, scoring at the 8:26 point to put St. Norbert up 2-1.
The Gusties went on to take six penalties in the reaming minutes following Bradshaw’s second goal. Although the Green Knight’s finished 1-for-7 on the man-advantage, Gustavus found it tough to mount a comeback with players in the penalty box the rest of the night.
Despite it being 2-1 through five-minutes of the third period, St. Norbert slammed the door on any comeback hopes with a pair of goals within five minutes of each other during the heart of the third period. Alain Joanette scored on the power play at 6:45 (3-1) and Joe Perry added the finishing touch with an acrobatic diving goal that beat Gustauvs goaltender John McLean upstairs at 11:21 (4-1).
John McLean suffered the loss in a 35-save effort, finishing 15-5-2 on the year. Although he wasn’t tested frequently, McLean’s counterpart David Jacobson made the saves he had to, recording a total of 13 in the game and improving to 17-2-3 with the win.
“We weren’t on anybody’s radar this year and I’m proud of what our guy’s accomplished this season,” said Petersen. “With a very young group with very limited experience, a lot of times you don’t see a run like we made. I’m disappointed with the loss but happy with how the guys finished this year.”