St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team earned a hard-fought sweep with a 3-2 overtime victory over Augsburg College on Saturday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. With the clock winding down on the five minute overtime session, sophomore forward Jack Walsh (Mahtomedi, Minn.) was able to muscle the puck past Auggie goaltender Justin Lockner amidst a mass of bodies off a rebound in front of the net, allowing the Gusties the win and a much needed four points on the weekend.
“I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left and that we had the last shift, so to be honest, I was just thinking ‘pucks to the net’ the entire time,” said Jack Walsh on his overtime game-winner. “Smyth put the puck on the net, I crashed hard and got a piece of it. I saw the puck hit his shoulder and the next thing I know I’m getting mauled by my teammates.”
Gustavus earns its first sweep of the season and improves to 6-5-1 overall and 2-4-0 in the MIAC. Augsburg drops to 2-7-0 overall and 1-3-0 in the MIAC with the loss.
“I don’t know why, but overtime was far and away our best period of the night,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “I don’t have answer for the reason why, but we had more energy and made more plays in that four and a half minute stretch than we did during the previous 60 minutes. I thought we were the better team in overtime after what was a very evenly-played game.”
After a scoreless first, the Gusties and Auggies played the copycat game in the second and third periods.
At the 2:43 mark of the second period, Augsburg’s Andrew Allen scored the opening goal of the game on assists from Tim Serratore and Tom Kuhn. After Serratore dangled around a Gustavus defender at the left point, he connected with Allen who was moving to the net up the right side. Allen then snapped a wrister past Patrick Sullivan (So., Kelowna, B.C.) to put the Auggies up 1-0.
Before Augsburg had any time to enjoy the momentum of the game’s opening goal, Tyler Schwartz (So., Chanhassen, Minn.) scored the equalizer :16 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1 at the 2:59 mark. Following a shot from the right side by Nate Paulsen (So., La Habra, Calif.), Schwartz was in the right place at the right time, posting up on the left post to put back a rebound for his first goal of the season.
Just when it looked as if the contest was heading into overtime due to its back-and-forth nature, Andy Pearson (So., Burnsville, Minn.) swung the momentum in Gustavus’ favor with a goal at 12:59 of the third period. Zach May (Jr., Prior Lake, Minn.) redirected the puck off the far boards to the inner left circle where Pearson pounced on the loose puck in space and fired it into the top left corner of the net.
Less than a minute after Pearson’s go-head goal, Augsburg returned the favor with the game-tying goal (2-2) at 13:28. Following an Augsburg rush that produced a scramble of players to the right at the net, a rebound came free to the low left circle. Defenseman Tom Kuhn stepped up to bury the puck past a sprawling Patrick Sullivan who couldn’t recover from the initial rush in time.
Augsburg carried a 37-32 shot advantage into overtime. The Gusties controlled the zone for much of the overtime period leading up to Walsh’s game-winner, outshooting the Auggies 5-2 in the frame.
Sullivan picked up his third win of the season and is now 3-1-0 on the year. He finished with 37 saves, his second-best save total of the season. Sullivan’s counterpart Justin Lockner suffered the loss (2-6-0) after allowing all three goals and making 34 saves.
After a penalty ridden game last night in the series-opener, coach Petersen was pleased with his team’s discipline in staying out of the penalty box tonight. Augsburg was allowed just one power play chance in the contest and the Gustavus penalty killers did not allow a single shot on it. The Gusties continued to struggle with their own power play, not recording a shot on two opportunities.
“This was the first weekend of the year that you could really see this team come together,” said Jack Walsh. “We need to continue to work on playing a full 60-minute game, but tonight was much better. In this league you can’t take any weekend for granted, so I think it’s going to be important for us to strive for consistency and finish games strong.”
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will conclude the 2012 calendar year with a pair of non-conference tests at home in Don Roberts Ice Rink next weekend. The Gusties will first take on Lawrence University at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7. They will ten conclude the weekend against UW-Superior at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8.
“When you look at the big picture, we got four points and have now started to dig our way out of the hole we dug for ourselves,” Petersen stated. “We’ve had good goaltending and our defense has done the job. We are still searching for consistency on the offense end and tonight we were able to battle through an up-and-down game.”
He continued, “Augsburg was much more engaged tonight and created a lot of good chances. There was a bounce late and the hockey gods happen to be smiling upon us. Considering what has happened in our previous two MIAC series, it’s nice to go into break with weekend in our back pocket.”