St. Peter, Minn. – On a night that was about more than just a hockey game, the Gustavus women’s hockey team emerged victorious by a score of 3-1 over Bethel on Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Dubbed as “White-Out For Marah Night,” junior goalie Marah Sobczak was honored by the Gustie faithful after she was critically injured this summer in a head on collision. The Gusties put on a show for their wounded teammate, jumping out to a three-goal lead after two periods and winning their first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) game of the season. The Gusties improve to 2-0-0 (1-0-0 MIAC), while the Royals fall to 3-2-0 (0-1-0 MIAC). The two squads will square off again tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.
“It was a big night for a lot of reasons,” stated head coach Mike Carroll. “Not only was it our first conference game, but with Marah coming down there was a lot going on. As a coach, you always wonder how that is going to affect the players. We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but we played excellent in the second period and in the third period we did what we needed to do to win the game, so it was a good win.”
The Gusties got out to an early lead 7:04 into the first period when Allison Eder-Zdechlik (Fy., Stillwater, Minn.) scored the first goal of her collegiate career. Eder-Zdechlik ripped a laser from the left wing past the glove of Bethel goaltender Jess Newstrom to put the Gusties on top. From there, the Gustie women would take a 1-0 lead to the first intermission.
In the second period, it was Emily Reibert’s (Fy., Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) turn to score her first collegiate goal. The first-year crashed the net and found herself on the doorstep following a Kelly Thotland (So., Edina, Minn.) shot from the point. Reibert put away the backhand rebound to extend the Gustavus lead to 2-0 with 11:34 to play in the second period.
“It was really exciting,” mentioned Reibert of the goal. “We were sitting on edge and needed another goal, so I just crashed the net and got the backhand rebound. I was a little shocked at first, but it was a really cool feeling.”
Gustavus’ third goal of the contest came with 3:26 to play in the second period when Brianna Seebold (Fy., Detroit Lakes, Minn.) followed suit of her first-year teammates and scored her first collegiate goal. Seebold’s goal came on the second power play opportunity of the game for the Gusties. After a Marissa Brandt (So., Vadnais Heights, Minn.) shot was deflected by Newstrom, Seebold was there to put away the rebound and push the Gustie lead to 3-0, which they would take in to the second intermission.
Bethel was able to narrow the margin to 3-1 in the third period when Lindsay Burman scored for the Royals. However, it was the only goal the Gustavus defense would give up, as the Gustie women held on for the two-goal victory, which gave goaltender Colleen Jacoby (Fy., Muskegon, Mich.) the win in her first collegiate start.
“A lot of kids contributed,” Carroll said. “But it was nice to see three first-years get goals, and another first-year in the net to stop a breakaway or two. In the end our leaders carried us through and kept us calm when they had to.”
The three first-year players led the way with a goal each for the Gusties, while Jacoby notched 18 saves in her debut. Brandt, Thotland, Carolyn Draayer (So., Deephaven, Minn.), and Amanda Cartony (Jr., Stillwater, Minn.) all recorded an assist on the night.
Off the ice, a sea of white came out to support Marah Sobczak, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the players. “It was awesome to see the place packed with white,” commented Reibert. “There were a lot of Marah t-shirts around campus all day today, and we were happy to see so much support for Marah tonight, we couldn’t have asked for a better crowd.”
Before the game, Sobczak was able to walk under her own power into the locker room to greet the women and wish them luck in tonight’s game. The players welcomed her with open arms after seeing her in a wheelchair last week at the season-opener.
“It lifts the spirits of the kids, and it is also a good lesson to learn about perseverance when you see your teammate going through something like that,” mentioned Carroll of the players getting to see Sobczak on her own two feet again. “She is a fighter and if anyone can get through what she has been through, it is her.”
“The team is like a family to me,” described Sobczak. “They have been great through the whole process. Being able to come to the games and be around them has really helped a lot with my recovery.”
With the support of the women’s hockey team and Alpha Sigma Tau sorority, all of the proceeds from t-shirt sales and tonight’s Chuck-a-Puck contest will be given to the Sobczak family in hopes of aiding with increased medical bills.
“I would just like to say thank you to everyone that was here,” said a humbled Sobczak. “This was one of the larger crowds I have seen at one of our women’s hockey games, so it was great to see everybody out here. The support has been amazing from the hockey team, the Gustavus community, and everyone else who has been there for my family and me.”