St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s hockey team could not overcome an early 2-0 deficit in a 2-1 loss to No. 9 UW-Superior on Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. The loss marks the first on home ice in 49 games for the Gusties, dating back to March 20, 2010 when they lost to Elmira College in the third place game of the NCAA Tournament. With the loss, Gustavus drops to 1-1-0, while UW-Superior improves to 3-0-0 with the win.
“Coming in we knew it was going to be a big test for us,” said senior defender Maddie Bergh (Eden Prairie, Minn.). “This is our first full series and Superior is a good team that always seems to bring their best against us.”
Although the Gusties held a shot advantage of 10-6 in the opening period, it was the Yellowjackets who opened up an early 2-0 lead in the first period. Kiara De Kezel put UW-Superior on the board first when she rifled a shot from the right dot past the shoulder of Gustavus goaltender Lindsey Hibbard (So., Princeton, Minn.) and into the top left corner of the net. De Kezel’s third goal of the season came just 5:43 into the game and gave the Yellowjackets the early 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Dani Schultz found herself in the slot with a Gustavus defender in her midst. Schultz made one move and tucked a backhand in the top right corner of the goal to extend the Yellowjacket lead to 2-0 midway through the first. Schultz was assisted by Lynne Larson on the play.
“Tonight was a tough one,” stated Head Coach Mike Carroll. “It was one of those days that, when you look back on it, we just didn’t get the bounces we needed with some of the chances we had tonight. We gave up the two goals in the first period and we were really flustered. It looked like completely different team then what we expect.”
Gustavus was finally able to capitalize on a scoring chance early in the second period. Less than four minutes into the second frame, Maddie Bergh fired a shot from the left point. Bergh’s shot slid along the ice through a screen and between the legs of UW-Superior net minder Shanley Peters to narrow the deficit to one goal. The Gusties continued on to create a number of other scoring chances, but could not capitalize and they went to the second intermission trailing 2-1.
“We did a good job of refocusing and coming out strong in the second period,” mentioned Carroll. “I thought for a good portion of the second period, at least up until the last three minutes, we played great. We had numerous opportunities, we made some adjustments, and we put ourselves in a position where we thought we would get it done. But we got in some penalty trouble. We killed the penalties off, but they still hurt.”
The third period proved to be a back-and-forth battle. Each team had its fair share of scoring chances. Contrary to the first period, the Yellowjackets held possession for long periods of time in the third period, while the Gusties created three breakaway opportunities. However, a pair of huge saves from Peters kept Gustavus off the scoreboard and the 2-1 lead in tact. The Gusties continued to fight, but could not overcome the deficit in the final period.
“We had five or six breakaways that we didn’t finish tonight, so we are getting chances, but our veterans have to step up,” analyzed Carroll. “Our young kids are coming along, and they’re going to be much better by going through this. Win or lose, you can learn. Obviously, we don’t like losing, but there is a lot that can be taken from tonight.”
Although not pleased with the outcome, Bergh was optimistic about her team’s performance.
“I am proud of the fact that we stuck with it the whole game,” Bergh stated. “It’s tough to play most of the game down two goals and have to battle through that, but we stuck together pretty well. Tomorrow I’d like to see more consistency, a full effort throughout the whole game. We can’t afford to have lulls. We can’t afford to get stuck in our d-zone for two minutes at a time either. That’s just not going to get it done.”
The loss snaps a 49-game unbeaten streak at Don Roberts Ice Rink for the Gusties, which included a current 28-game winning streak, the longest in NCAA Division III history. Gustavus will look to begin a new streak tomorrow afternoon against the Yellowjackets in the second game of the weekend series. The opening face off for that game is set for 2:00 p.m.
“The good thing is, tomorrow afternoon we have a chance to get a split,” finished Carroll. “That’s how we have to approach it. We have to forget about tonight and embrace the opportunity to go out and get a victory.”