St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s hockey team used a six-goal second period to defeat Saint Benedict 8-2 on Senior Day Saturday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Seven different players scored a goal for the Gusties on the way to their 24th win of the season. With the win today, Gustavus finishes the regular season unbeaten with a record of 24-0-1 (18-0-0 MIAC), the first time in Gustavus women’s hockey history that a team has finished the year unbeaten. Saint Benedict drops to 5-13-4 (3-13-2 MIAC) on the year.
After a defensive-minded game last night in a 1-0 win for the Gusties, Saint Benedict and Gustavus saw a much different game on Saturday afternoon. After Melissa Doyle (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) gave Gustavus the first lead of the game at the 11:21 mark of the first period, the Gusties went on to score six goals in the second on the way to building a 7-1 lead.
Marissa Brandt (So., Vadnais Heights, Minn.) got the scoring started 3:53 into the second period when she found herself all alone on the back doorstep with an open net in front of her. The sophomore put the puck in the back of the net to extend the lead to 2-0, but Saint Benedict had the answer a minute later when Alyssa Hoffman capitalized on a breakaway opportunity. Hoffman outskated the Gustie defense and buried a backhand to pull the Blazers within a goal with the score 2-1.
From there, Gustavus took off on an offensive explosion. Carolyn Draayer (So., Deephaven, Minn.) got the roll started with what was the first of five more goals in the period. Draayer fired a wrister from 20 feet out that caught the right post and banked across the goal line to push the score to 3-1.
Brandt got her second goal of the game when she benefited from a brilliant play by Jenna Christensen (Sr., Albert Lea, Minn.). Christensen skated the puck from neutral ice all the way across the blue line and behind the net before finding Brandt near the slot. Christensen’s pass was on target and Brandt put it away to put the Gusties on top 4-1.
A minute later, Allison Eder-Zdechlik (Fy., Stillwater, Minn.) got into the scoring act when she ended up on the tail end of a broken play. A loose puck found its way to the waiting stick of Eder-Zdechlik who put it in the top left corner of the goal to extend the Gustavus lead to 5-1.
After assisting on two goals earlier in the game, Jenna Christensen kept one for herself at the 12:56 mark. Christensen created space, made one fake, and put the puck past Saint Benedict goalie Jenna Traut stick-side to extend the lead to 6-1. Amanda Cartony scored the final goal of the second period at the 13:22 mark when she fired a shot at an open net from the right side and found the back to push the score to 7-1 headed to the third.
The Gusties weren’t done scoring yet, however. Beth Olson (So., Warroad, Minn.) put the finishing touches on the offensive afternoon with her first goal of the year. Olson fired a shot from the left point that slid along the ice through traffic and across the goal line to make the score 8-1. The Blazers were able to score once more on the power play and put the seal on the final score at 8-2.
For the game, Gustavus outshot Saint Benedict by a final tally of 33-9, but the difference was on the power play. The Gusties converted on 4-of-5 power play opportunities compared to just 1-for-2 for the Blazers. The four power play goals today made five for the weekend and 10 in the last four games. Over that four-game stretch, Gustavus went 10-for-22 on the power play for a conversion rate of .455.
Lindsey Hibbard (Fy., Princeton, Minn.) got the win in net for Gustavus. Hibbard tallied four saves and allowed one goal in 33:22 of action. Tara Hoverstad (Fy., Coon Rapids, Minn.) finished the game between the pipes. She made three saves and also gave up a goal in 26:38 of play.
Following the game, the Gusties were presented with the MIAC regular season championship trophy. This season is the ninth consecutive conference championship for the women’s hockey team and the 12th in school history. With an MIAC record of 18-0-0 this season, it is just the second time in program history that the Gusties have finished with a perfect record in conference play.
“A tradition has been established to excel here, so coming into this program it was a goal of ours to continue that tradition,” mentioned senior captain Lindsey Hjelm (Sr., North Oaks, Minn.). “We are just really excited that the team has come together the way that it has and we are looking forward to postseason play, but we are taking it one game at a time. This was a good win and it feels good.”
With the win today, the Gusties finish the regular season unbeaten with a record of 24-0-1. It is the first time in Gustavus women’s hockey history that the Gusties have finished a season unbeaten.
“I guess I didn’t even know that we were the first Gustavus team to finish a season without a loss, but it’s definitely a cool thing to accomplish,” said senior Meagan Wanecke (Sr., Delafield, Wis.). “Our team motto has been to take one game at a time, so we haven’t really focused on the end result, but it is still fun to be able to do that.”
Saturday afternoon also represented Senior Day for five individuals who have dedicated themselves to the Gustavus women’s hockey program for the past four years. The Gustavus Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to seniors Jenna Christensen, Lindsey Hjelm, Kayla Ingbretson (Sr., Mound, Minn.), Kelsey Kennedy (Sr., Eagan, Minn.), and Meagan Wanecke.
“Being a part of this program means a lot to us,” described Christensen. “We stuck together all four years and we are the only seniors left, so it feels good to end our last home game on a good note and head into the postseason ready to get the job done.”
The Gusties will take the ice next Thursday, Feb. 28th in the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs against the winner of No. 4 seeded Bethel and No. 5 seeded St. Catherine, who will battle in the first round on Tuesday. Thursday night’s contest will take place at Don Roberts Ice Rink at a time that will be determined at a later date.