St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s hockey team got its tenth consecutive win of the season on Friday night when it defeated UW-River Falls 3-2 at Don Roberts Ice Rink. The Gusties jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two periods of play. UW-River Falls made a case to get back into the game with two third-period goals, but the Gusties were also able to find the back of the net in the final 20 minutes, and hung on for the one-goal victory. Gustavus improves to 10-0-0, while UW-River Falls drops to 7-4-2. With the win, the Gustie women become the first team to open the season with ten straight victories in program history.
In a battle of top-ranked teams, neither one was able to impose its will on the other. In a tightly contested and physical contest, the Gusties took advantage of opportunities early. At the 6:13 mark of the first period, Jenna Christensen (Sr., Albert Lea, Minn.) found Meagan Wanecke (Sr., Delafield, Wis.) waiting on the back post with a look at the net. Wanecke buried the puck past the shoulder of Falcon goaltender Gillian McDonald to put the Gusties on top 1-0.
Gustavus took its one-goal lead to the second period when Carolyn Draayer (So., Deephaven, Minn.) tracked down UW-River Falls’ Chloe Kinsel, stole the puck, and continued on her route towards the goal. Draayer went top-shelf over the outstretched glove of McDonald to extend the Gustie lead to 2-0.
“I was chasing the forward around the net, and I needed to catch up to her,” described Draayer. “There was double pressure coming from both sides. I got lucky and somehow I was able to slip the puck from. I took it to the net and got it to go in. It was fun.”
The Gusties kept their two-goal lead in tact headed to the third period. In the third, Gustavus put itself in a dangerous situation when it took back-to-back penalties, which created a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Falcons. Gustavus was able to fend off the 5-on-3, but could not hold out during the power play that followed. Allie Olson was able to sneak one by Gustie goaltender Lindsey Hibbard (Fy., Princeton, Minn.) after her first rebound attempt was denied. Amanda Ryder was credited with the assist.
Gustavus responded three-and-a-half minutes later with a power play goal of its own. Like Olson, Gustie first-year Brianna Seebold’s (Fy., Detroit Lakes, Minn.) relentlessness was rewarded on a rebound goal that put the Gusties in front 3-1. Leah Johnson (So., Chanhassen, Minn.) and Marissa Brandt (So., Vadnais Heights, Minn.) were given assists on the play.
Although Seebold’s goal would eventually prove to be the game-winner, UW-River Falls would not go down without a fight. Faced with a two-goal deficit late in the game, the Falcons were forced to pull McDonald from the net for the final minute of the game. The extra skater played to their advantage. With :31 seconds remaining, Kait Mason found the back of the net on a rebound with traffic in front of the net. Mason’s goal cut the lead to 3-2, but the Falcons were unable to get the tying goal as the Gusties held on for the narrow one-goal victory.
“We found a way to win the hockey game, which is always the ultimate goal,” said head coach Mike Carroll. “We had a couple of nice goals to give us the victory. There are things to work on, but we finished the first half in good shape and got the win.”
“These were two big wins,” mentioned Draayer of Gustavus’ two wins over the No. 6-ranked Falcons. “We have a lot of respect for River Falls as a team. These were definitely tough games that took a lot of grit to pull through and get two wins.”
First-year goaltender Lindsey Hibbard, who started her third consecutive game in net, gave up two goals while registering 26 saves, including 11 in the final period.
“We got some nice goals, but we also got some key saves from our goaltender,” mentioned Carroll. “Lindsey did a great job coming up big when we needed her.”
The Gusties will not play a regular season game again until Jan. 11th when they host UW-Stevens Point in a non-conference series. However, they will not have the time between these games completely off. The team will travel to Germany on Dec. 26th for a nine-day tour with stops in Germany, Austria, and Slovakia that include three games and a practice.
“Europe is going to be a lot of fun,” exclaimed Draayer. “We are playing three games and we have a practice while we are there, so we are going to get some skating in and keep getting better. There is a lot of season left, so we are going to keep working.”