St. Peter, Minn. - The Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team picked up two points over St. Olaf College after winning the team’s first penalty shootout in conference play 1-0 in three rounds. The Gusties and Oles skated to a 2-2 tie through regulation and five minutes of overtime before Gustavus earned the extra point thanks to the lone shootout goal converted by senior forward Gustav Bengtson (Stockholm, Sweden).
“It was a hard-fought series and there are definitely some tired guys in both locker rooms after this weekend,” said Head Coach Brett Petersen. “We are 5-0-2 over our last seven games and have had a good late push to close out the first half of the seaon. I’m especially pleased with how we ended the first half as compared to how we started. We’ve seen good progress in the nine weeks we’ve been together and we look forward to getting healthy over the break and coming back in January, which is a month this team has been historically good in.”
Because of the MIAC’s newly adopted scoring system, the Gusties earn two points and St. Olaf takes home one point. Gustavus caps the 2013 portion of its schedule with an overall record of 7-3-2 and an MIAC mark of 4-1-1. St. Olaf is now 3-7-2 overall and 1-3-2 in the MIAC with the tie. The Gusties head into their holiday break in second place in the conference standings with 14 points, sitting behind St. Thomas who leads the league with 16 points (4-0-2 MIAC).
Forward Gustav Bengtson seemed to have an extra gear in this evening’s series-finale and he showed it right out of the gates. Just seconds into the game, Adam Smyth (Sr., Burnsville, Minn.) connected on a rink-wide pass that covered all three lines and ended up on the stick on Bengtson who was in the clear on a breakaway moving up the right wing. The senior skated in and snapped the puck past St. Olaf goaltender Steve Papciak for the game’s opening goal just :15 seconds in.
“Gustav had his best game of the year tonight,” said Petersen about Bengtson’s performance. “He was much more involved and was rewarded on the scoresheet for his effort. [Goose] scores the team’s first ever shootout goal in the new point system – that’s his specialty and he certainly capitalized.”
After Gustie netminder John McLean (So., Eagan, Minn.) turned away Dan Cecka on St. Olaf’s first shootout try, coach Petersen selected Bengtson to shoot first for the Gusties. The left-handed Bengtson moved up the left side with the puck on his forehand before going to his backhand and sliding the puck past Papciak through the five hole.
“I guess it’s my signature move,” laughed Bengtson after the game. “I just skate down, fake the shot, and go back to the five hole.”
John McLean sealed the shootout win by stopping Tim Tuscher and Peter Linblad on St. Olaf’s last two chances. McLean stopped 19-of-21 shots in the game and came up with a sprawling save sliding to his left to turn away Tim Tuscher who looked to have a shot at a wide-open net in front of him right of the crease late in the overtime session.
“Big John had a great weekend and was able to come up with big saves when we needed him to,” commented Petersen about the play of his goaltender. “He had built up a lot of confidence heading into the shootout and that clearly showed in his performance.”
Petersen went on to say that he was happy with the team’s demeanor as a whole in its first conference shootout of the season. “We had a practice shootout last weekend against Lawrence and we were not ready for it at the time. That experience was great for our guys and we were in a much better place mentally going into tonight’s shootout.”
Penalties continued to plague Gustavus early, as St. Olaf capitalized on two of its four power play chances in the first two periods. David Rath scored on the man-advantage to tie the game at 1-1 at the 8:24 mark of the first period, and Peter Linblad put the Oles on top 2-1 with a power play goal of his own at the 15:00 mark of the second period.
Down a goal at 2-1 heading into the third, Gustavus knotted the game at 2-2 5:16 into the frame when Andy Pearson (Jr., Burnsville, Minn.) scored his second goal of the season. Pearson took a tape-to-tape pass from Bengtson in stride on a 2-on-1 break and buried a wrister in the top right corner of the net.
Neither team could find the game-winner in the five-minute overtime session. Gustavus more than doubled St. Olaf’s shot total with a 45-21 advantage on the night. The Gusties finished 0-for-3 on the power play, which included being blanked on an one opportunity in overtime.
The Gustavus men’s heads into the break unbeaten over its last seven games and will return to the ice on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 when it plays host to Lake Forest College at 7:05 p.m