Blaine, Minn. – Special teams was the difference in the Gustavus men’s hockey team’s opening game of the season against Hamline University on Friday night in Fogerty Arena. Using a pair of power goals, the Gusties defeated Hamline 2-0 to kick off their 2012-13 campaign.
“The goal coming in was to win the game – we did that,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “Everyone on the team would admit that it wasn’t very pretty, but we did some good things and got the job done. A good start for sure, but we have an awful long way to go.”
After controlling possession for a majority of the opening minutes, Gustavus capitalized on its first power play opportunity of the season at the 6:22 mark. Taking a pass from Adam Smyth (Jr., Burnsville, Minn.) at the right point, Brenden Baker (Sr., Edina, Minn.) made his first shot as a Gustie count, firing a slap shot past Hamline goaltender Matt Hemingway to put Gustavus on top 1-0.
Baker’s first goal as a Gustie turned out to be the game-winner, as Gustavus would not allow a single goal for the remainder of the night. Gustavus took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after outshooting the Pipers 13-to-4 in the first period.
Hamline returned to the ice re-energized for the second period, outshooting the Gusties 10-to-8 in the frame. On the power play in the 13th minute, the Pipers were shut down on a game-tying opportunity when Gustavus goalie John McLean (So., Eagan, Min.) made a key save by sprawling on his back to the goal line to stop the puck from crossing the line with his glove.
“We took a couple penalties in the second and that’s when Hamline started picking up momentum. We weren’t able to generate a lot of offense after that, but John McLean was up to the challenge. He saw the puck well tonight and had a strong first outing.” commented Petersen.
Gustavus capitalized on the play of its special teams two minutes following McLean’s big save. With Hamline at full strength after killing off a power play in the 15th minute, Gustavus was still in control of possession deep in the Piper zone. At the 14:20 mark, Jack Walsh (So., Mahtomedi, Minn.) put the puck on the stick of defenseman Andrew Peterson (Sr., Reno, Nev.) who had just hopped off the bench and onto the ice. Peterson snapped a wrister from the top of the right circle that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net to give the Gusties a 2-0 advantage.
“We won the battle of special teams and that was the difference,” said Petersen. “Although our second goal wasn’t technically on the power play, it came on the tail end of a productive one. Overall, I thought Hamline had the edge on five-on-five and that the puck was in our end a great deal of time tonight.”
What would turn out to be an insurance goal by Peterson brought the score to a final at 2-0. Gustavus finished with the shots advantage by a 30-to-22 margin, going 1-for-4 on the power play with 10 shots on the man-advantage. Hamline was shut down on its three power play chances.
John McLean earned his first complete-game victory of the season after turning away all 22 shots he faced. Matt Hemingway suffered the loss in a 28-save effort.
On what to look for tomorrow night in Gustavus’ final contest of the weekend, Petersen remarked, “I would like to see us win more one-on-one battles and also strive for consistency on special teams. We talked about consistency heading into the season and tomorrow will be a good early test for us.”
The Gusties will cap the MIAC Showcase back in Fogerty Arena tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. against Concordia College.
The MIAC has a home page for the 2012 MIAC Men’s Hockey Showcase, featuring complete schedules, results, recaps, photo galleries and more. Webcast America is taping Friday and Sunday’s games, and an on-demand broadcast of those six contests will be available here on Sunday night. The MIAC Men’s Hockey Showcase is sponsored by Bauer, and all athletic training and on-site medical services are provided courtesy of Twin Cities Orthopedics.