Late Saint John’s Surge Sinks Men’s Hockey, Falls 3-2

Posted on January 31st, 2015 by

Andy Pearson tangles with Saint John's Wally Cossette in Saturday's 3-2 loss. Photo courtesy of CJ Siewert - Sport PiX.

St. Peter, Minn. – With an MIAC playoff chase as tightly contested as the one in men’s hockey, every goal has carries with it potential postseason implications. Thanks to two goals late in the third period, such could be the case for Saint John’s University.

Just when it looked as if Gustavus was headed for its third consecutive Saturday night win at Don Roberts Ice Rink, the Johnnies had other ideas. Trailing 2-1 and on the penalty kill with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, John Haeg started a rush from his defensive end that turned out to be the game’s key momentum swing. Haeg carried up the boards and down the left wing before crossing the puck to Andrew Commers who netted the one-timer to tie the game at 2-2 at the 15:07 mark

Three minutes later, Saint John’s took back the lead for good with a Kevin Becker goal at the 18:07 mark. Based on their performance on the draw all weekend, it would come as no surprise that a faceoff turned out to be the difference late in the game. After an offensive-zone faceoff win by Phil Johnson, Becker created space for himself in the slot and beat John McLean (Jr., Eagan, Minn.) for what turned out to be the game-winner.

With the loss, Gustavus drops into a tie for six place in the conference standings alongside Hamline with 16 points. The Gusties are now 6-8-7 overall and 3-4-5 in the MIAC. Saint John’s moves into a tie for fourth place next to Augsburg with 18 points. The Johnnies are now 9-5-5 overall and 5-3-2 in the MIAC.

After Saint John’s grabbed a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Dan McNamara at the 7:25 mark of the first period, Gustavus answered back later in the frame with a goal by Darren Lapic (Jr., New Prague, Minn.) at 17:34. Thanks to some hard work along the boards behind the Saint John’s net by Cory Ellis (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) and Schyler Adams (Sr., New Prague, Minn.), Ellis eventually got the puck onto the stick of Lapic, who was posted at the circle to the left of Saint John’s goalie Saxton Soley. Lapic took time to establish his angle and eventually snapped a wrister into the upper left corner of the net.

Gustavus carried the momentum of Lapic’s goal into the second period where it grabbed a 2-1 lead courtesy of a Schyler Adams goal at the 5:23 mark. Drew Aspinwall (So., Maple Grove, Minn.) pushed the puck up the right wing before firing a low shot onto the leg pads of Soley. Soley made the save but gave up a big rebound in front of the crease. Adams was at the right place at the right time, pouncing on the rebound and jamming it past the Saint John’s netminder.

Following Adams’s goal, Saxton Soley turned away 22 straight shots en route to the win. He finished with 38 saves and improved to 7-3-4. John McLean suffered the loss and is now 3-4-2 after making 27 saves.

Following a first period that saw each team record 12 shots, Gustavus outshot the Johnnies 14-9 in both the second and third periods on its way to a 40-30 advantage in the game. The Gusties finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while Saint John’s went 0-for-2. The Johnnies won the battle on the dots for the second straight night by winning 42-of-70 draws

The Gustavus men’s hockey team will have a weekend to regroup and refocus before returning to league play on Feb. 13-14 when it faces the University of St. Thomas in a home-and-home series. Gustavus will be at home at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 13 and then will travel to Mendota Heights on Saturday, Feb. 14 for a 7:00 p.m. puck drop.

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