St. Peter, Minn. - The Gustavus men’s hockey team took down top-ranked St. Norbert College on Saturday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink by a final score of 2-1. Behind the play of sophomore goaltender Patrick Sullivan (So., Kelowna, British Columbia), the Gusties held the defending national champion to just one goal on their way to their third victory of the season. Sullivan recorded 39 saves after facing 40 shots in his first start between the pipes donning a three crowned sweater. With the win, Gustavus improves to 3-1-0 on the season, while St. Norbert suffers its first loss of the year and falls to 4-1-0.
“This was a good bounce back win and I thought our compete level was much improved from both last night and our previous meetings with St. Norbert,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “We saw why they are the number one team in the nation, but I’m pleased with our performance and we had a lot of guys work really hard and get rewarded for their effort.”
Zach May (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) energized another big Don Roberts Ice Rink crowd early in the game with a goal at the 5:13 mark of the first period to put Gustavus on top 1-0. May, whose goal was his second of the year, was assisted by Jack Walsh (So., Mahtomedia, Minn.) and Brenden Baker (Sr., Edina, Minn.).
St. Norbert evened up the score at 1-1 with a goal later in the period. At the 14:46 point, Connor Bradshaw knotted the game with an unassisted goal.
From the first period on, it would be safe to say that Gustavus holding on for dear life. The Green Knights outshot the Gusties 15-to-4 in the second period and 13-to-5 in the third. The final shot count saw St. Norbert with a 40-to-19 advantage.
With Patrick Sullivan doing his job and keeping the Green Knights out of the net, Gustavus came up with a goal with less than six minutes remaining in the game. At 14:24, Ryan Johnson buried his second goal of the season unassisted to give the Gusties a 2-1 lead. Johnson’s goal proved to be the game-winner, as Gustavus held on late for the one goal win.
As to be expected in a game between the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the country, late game heroics were still in store for the remaining minutes. After Sullivan was tagged with a delay of game penalty for knocking the net off its moorings, St. Norbert was awarded a penalty shot. After he made Sullivan commit early on the penalty shot, Kyle Stroh was looking at an open net with the puck on his backhand. At the very end, the sophomore netminder was able to kick away Stroh’s backhanded shot to secure the Gustavus victory.
“For playing his first game in a Gustavus uniform, Patrick Sullivan was certainly our best player tonight,” commented Brett Petersen. “St. Norbert is a team with a lot of fire power and a lot of depth, so you are going to need good goaltending to stay with them. We got that tonight and were able to hold on.”
St. Norbert’s David Jacobson suffered his first loss of the season in net, allowing both goals and making a total of 17 saves.
Both squads had a good night on the penalty kill. As St. Norbert was 0-for-3 with four shots on the power play, and Gustavus was 0-for-2 with one shot.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will be back on the ice next weekend when it kicks off MIAC play against Bethel. The Gusties will travel to Blaine, Minn. on Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. game before hosting the Royals at Don Roberts Ice Rink at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday.
“After our short non-conference schedule to start the year, we are ready to get into conference play,” concluded Petersen. “Looking at the scores from this weekend, we see that there is an awful lot of parity in the west, so a strong start next weekend will be important.”