St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team suffered a 4-1 loss to an opportunistic University of St. Thomas squad on Saturday night at Don Roberts Rink. Needing a win to secure outright ownership of the 2014 MIAC title, St. Thomas used another strong third period to sink the Gusties and earn the series sweep and conference title along with it. Gustavus drops to 13-6-4 overall and 10-3-1 in the MIAC with the loss, while St. Thomas improves to 18-3-2 overall and 12-0-2 in the MIAC with the victory.
After a defensive first period that yielded no goals and just five shot per side, St. Thomas was able to get on the scoreboard first for the second night in a row with a goal halfway through the second period. At the 10:48 mark, Cory Kapeller capitalized on a Gustavus turnover and put the puck past John McLean (So., Eagan, Minn.) with a wrister from the left circle for his first goal of the season.
Following Kapeller’s opening goal, the Gusties generated several good looks before drawing a penalty at the 14:15 mark. Just :31 seconds into the power play, Corey Leivermann (Sr., North Mankato, Minn.) wheeled around the high slot before firing a wrister at the net from the top of the umbrella. St. Thomas goaltender Drew Fielding was screened on the shot and the puck sailed past him and into the back of the net.
The goal was Leivermann’s third of the weekend and 16th of the season. He has now scored at least a point in Gustavus’s last nine games.
With an MIAC title on the line and the game tied at 1-1, St. Thomas wasted no time in the third period. Taking advantage of another defensive zone turnover by Gustavus, Bryce Walker netted the eventual game-winner at the 2:50 mark. Walker’s goal was also his first of the season.
St. Thomas scored again and took a 3-1 lead at 5:02 when Nick Nielsen got the puck all alone at the bottom of the right circle and beat McLean with a low-lining snap-shot.
Gustavus had two power play opportunities in the remaining minutes after Nielsen’s goal yet couldn’t find a way to solve St. Thomas’ defense and netminder, Drew Fielding. The Tommies added an empty-netter by Michael Dockery at the 19:19 mark to bring the score to a final.
Gustavus finished with a 25-22 shots advantage and was 1-for-4 on the man-advantage. St. Thomas didn’t record a shot on its one power play look of the night.
Fielding picks up the win and is now 17-3-2 after stopping 24-of-25 shots. McLean drops to 12-5-4 after allowing three goals and making 18 saves.
The Gustavus men’s hockey team will attempt to secure a second place position in the MIAC Playoffs next weekend when it takes on Bethel in a home-and-home series. The Gusties will host the series-opener at Don Roberts Ice Rink at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. The game is designated as Senior Night.