St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s hockey team could not recover from a first period deficit in a 1-0 loss to Bethel University on Saturday at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Kathryn Larson put her team on top just 2:48 into the game when she scored the lone goal of the contest. With the loss, Gustavus drops to 16-7-2 overall and 14-4-0 in the MIAC, while Bethel improves to 17-6-2 overall and 13-5-0 in league play.
It took all of 32 seconds for Gustavus to receive its first scoring opportunity on Saturday afternoon. Bethel’s Lindsay Burman was tagged with a tripping penalty, giving the Gusties their first power play chance of the afternoon. Gustavus recorded five shots – three of which were on net – with the skater advantage, but could not get one past Royal goaltender Erika Allen and Bethel was back to full strength at the 2:32 mark.
Burman more than made up for her penalty 16 seconds later when she set up what would prove to be the game’s only goal. She raced the puck into the Gustavus zone and fired a shot on net from the left circle. Her shot was stopped by Gustie goaltender Tara Hoverstad (So., Coon Rapids, Minn.), but the rebound came away to Kathryn Larson in the slot. Larson put the rebound away to give the Royals a 1-0 lead thanks to the assist by Burman and the Royals had a 1-0 lead.
From there, Gustavus was not able to get anything going, as the Royals outskated the Gusties for the remainder of the period.
Gustavus came out strong to begin the second period. However, even with the increase in energy, the Gusties could not take advantage of their second power play opportunity of the game midway through the second.
Following the power play, the two teams went back-and-forth until the final three minutes of the period. In the final three minutes, Bethel asserted itself on the offensive end, holding possession in the Gustavus zone for the remainder of the frame. The possession did not pay off for the Royals, however, as they went to the second intermission still clinging to a 1-0 lead.
“At the end of the second period, we couldn’t get the puck out of our zone in the last couple minutes,” said Head Coach Mike Carroll. “When we went into the locker room between the second and third, it was almost a silver lining that it was still a one-goal game even with as bad as the second period was. We knew we could still get it done.”
Gustavus played its strongest period of hockey in the third period, creating numerous chances on the way to outshooting Bethel 11-3 in the frame. Although the Gusties played much better in the third, they still could not get on the board, as the Royal defense was up to the challenge down the stretch in the 1-0 win.
“I was really proud of how we played in the third period,” stated Carroll. “That is something to build on for the playoffs.”
Gustavus held a shot advantage of 28-19 for the game. Both teams were also held scoreless on the power play. The Gusties recorded four shots on two chances with the skater advantage, while the Royals did not get a shot off on their only opportunity.
In net, Tara Hoverstad suffered the loss for the Gusties after allowing one goal and making 18 saves. Erika Allen was awarded with the win in a 28-save shutout. Hoverstad drops to 5-2-1 on the season, while Allen improves to 14-6-1.
With this afternoon’s loss and a 2-1 win for St. Thomas over Saint Benedict, the Gusties finish two points behind the Tommies in the league standings and snap their streak of nine consecutive MIAC regular season championships. Gustavus will receive the second seed in the MIAC Playoff field and will host Bethel next Saturday, March 1st at Don Roberts Ice Rink. That game is set for a 2:00 p.m., opening face off.
“This year we have been inconsistent in series,” concluded Carroll. “We play great in one game and not so great in the other, but we don’t have any more series this year. Everything is one game at a time and we are looking forward to the playoffs. That is what we play for.”
Saturday also represented Senior Day for the Gusties. As is tradition at Gustavus, the final home game of the regular season is designated as Senior Day and a special tribute is made to the individuals who have dedicated themselves to the Gustavus women’s hockey program for the past four years. The Athletic Department would like to extend a sincere thank you to Maddie Bergh (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Amanda Cartony (Stillwater, Minn.), and Melissa Doyle (White Bear Lake, Minn.) for their commitment.