St. Peter, Minn. – A wakeup call…perhaps, a humbling loss…definitely. The Gustavus men’s hockey team came out on the wrong end of a 6-0 loss to St. Thomas on Friday night at Don Roberts Rink. In a game that featured two teams ranked No. 12 in the nation, the visitors in the black sweaters certainly played like it, exploding for four second period goals and cruising to their third MIAC win of the season. Gustavus drops to 3-4-0 overall and 0-3-0 in the MIAC, while St. Thomas improves to 4-2-1 overall and 3-0-0 in the MIAC.
Despite taking an early first period penalty, which Gustavus killed without allowing a shot on goal, the two teams skated up and down the rink and displayed very similar tendencies on both ends of the ice for the opening 15 minutes.
Skating 4-on-4 after dual unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, Zach May (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) gained a breakaway after a strong poke check at his own blue line. May was slashed on his breakaway attempt and was awarded a penalty shot for the effort. After mishandling the puck initially on the penalty shot, May was forced to take a wide angle at Tommie goaltender Tyrone Simcoe from the right circle. Simcoe came out and challenged just outside the crease as May tried to cross his face, turning away the reach-back shot to preserve the 0-0 score.
After blanking Gustavus on its second power play try, Tommies converted on theirs. At the 17:09 mark of the period, Michael Krieg fired shot from the point through traffic and into the back of the net for the opening goal. Krieg’s shot was the first faced by Gustavus goaltender Tyler Venne (Sr., New Hope, Minn.), who entered the game in relief of starter John McLean (So., Eagan, Minn.) who left with a lower body injury.
From the Krieg goal on, it was all St. Thomas.
With the puck on his stick behind the Gustavus net, Tommie Riley Horgan skated unchallenged to the left slot where he turned and fired a wrister into the goal to extend the lead to 2-0.
Chris Cass put St. Thomas on top 3-0 with what would be the first of two straight power play goals, the first coming at the 12:25 mark of the second period. The Tommies caught Gustavus on a line change, moving the puck up the side boards from Travis Baker to Riley Horgan and finally to Chris Cass on the opposite side of the rink. Cass crossed in front of Venne and buried a backhand into the top left shelf.
Four minutes later at 14:22, St. Thomas extended its lead to 4-0 when Alex Niestrom scored on a breakaway at the tail end another power play opportunity.
Willi Rose became the fifth different St. Thomas player to score a goal after bringing the period to a close with on his own at the 19:15 mark, sending the Tommies into the locker room with a 5-0 advantage.
The Tommies and Gusties both had eight shots on goal in the second period , yet St. Thomas converted on both of its power play tries. The Tommies finished the game 3-for-6 on the man-advantage.
Although the Gusties were given four power play opportunities in the third period, the Tommie defense and Simcoe turned away any comeback hopes with a stiffing effort. St. Thomas, whose penalty kill ranked first in the league entering tonight, shut Gustavus down on four power play chances while also allowing just three shots. Gustavus ended up 0-for-5 on the man-advantage by the final buzzer.
Chris Cass brought the night’s scoring to an end at the 12:33 mark with his second goal of the game.
Tyler Venne suffered the loss and falls to 1-2-0 overall after a 12-save effort. John McLean played 16:47 and made seven saves. Tyrone Simcoe picks up his second-consecutive complete-game shutout in the win, improving to 2-0-0 after making 21 saves.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will look to salvage a split and snap a three-game losing streak tomorrow night at the St. Thomas Ice Arena. The series finale between the Gusties and Tommies is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.