Men’s Hockey Keeps Playoff Hopes Alive With 1-1 Draw, Shootout Win Against St. Thomas

Posted on February 14th, 2015 by

Gustavus goaltender John McLean made 30 saves and stopped 5-of-6 attempts in the shootout on Friday night against St. Thomas. The Gusties skated to a 1-1 and then won 2-1 in the shootout. Photo courtesy of CJ Siewert - Sport PiX.

St. Peter, Minn. – In do-or-die mode needing points to keep its playoff hopes alive, the Gustavus men’s hockey team came away with two against MIAC-leader St. Thomas thanks to a 1-1 tie and victory 2-1 victory in the shootout. The Gusties head into tomorrow evening’s series-finale sitting in seventh place in the conference standings with 18 points at 6-8-8 overall and 3-4-6 in the MIAC. St. Thomas remains atop the MIAC with 28 points at 14-4-4 overall and 8-2-3 in the MIAC.

“The two points were big tonight, especially when we need to make a push or else the season is over for us,” said sophomore Sam Majka. “Although it wasn’t the three point outcome we wanted, we are feeling more confident going into tomorrow night thanks to tonight’s effort.”

After skating to a 1-1 tie through regulation and a five-minute overtime session, shootout goals by Jake Bushey (Fr., Duluth, Minn.) and Sam Majka (So., Wayzata, Minn.) gave the Gusties the extra point in the conference standings.

Each team shot four times before Bushey was able to fire a wrister past St. Thomas goaltender Drew Fielding after doing his best Patirck Kane impression with the slow-down approach down the center cut of the slot. Despite Bushey’s go-head goal, St. Thomas’s Connor McBride answered by beating John McLean (Jr., Eagan, Minn.) blocker side to equalize the shootout at 1-1. Sam Majka followed Bushey and capitalized with what was a shootout-clinching backhand.

“It’s a different move than I usually do,” said Majka about his shootout tally. “It didn’t work for me last time at Saint John’s, so I was thinking about doing something new but changed my mind at the last moment. I came down the left side and brought it back to the center sort of like TJ Oshie did in the Olympics last year. I faked to my forehand and brought it back to my backhand. At that point he gave me the net and I put it in.”

Jake Bushey ties up St. Thomas's Derek Jacobson in front of his goaltender.

Jake Bushey ties up St. Thomas’s Derek Jacobson in front of his goaltender.

John McLean turned away Willie Faust on the Tommies’ last attempt, finishing the shootout session 5-for-6, which included a highlight reel save on Jordan Lovick (St. Thomas’s third attempt).

The night’s scoring began at the 8:15 mark of the first period when Nick Nielsen fired a shot on McLean from the top of the left circle. McLean made the initial save, but the puck popped his glove and over his right shoulder into the goal.

From the point on, McLean was perfect on the 27 shots he faced in the remaining minutes of regulation and overtime. The junior stopped 30-of-31 shots and is now 3-4-3 with the draw. McLean’s counterpart, Drew Fielding, moved to 11-4-4 after stopping 28-of-29 shots.

Trailing 1-0 with more than half of the second period in the books, Gustavus capitalized on its second power play opportunity when Darren Lapic (Jr., New Prague, Minn.) put away a rebound at the 11:27 mark to knot the game at 1-1.

“That was just a classic Darren goal – working hard and making some noise in the crease,” commented Majka on Lapic’s equalizer.

The goal by Lapic ended a five-game drought during which the Gusties failed to convert on 13 consecutive power plays. Gustavus finished 1-for-3 on the man-advantage, while St. Thomas was blanked on all three of its tries.

With tonight’s tie, the Gustavus men’s hockey team set the NCAA Division III record for ties in season. The previous record of seven was shared by UMass Dartmouth (12-8-7) in 2013, UW-Superior (19-3-7) in 2005, and UW- Stevens Point (13-13-7) in 1995. It is the most recorded ties by an MIAC team since St. Olaf went 13-9-6 during the 2011-12 campaign.

The Gusties will cap the weekend and look to once again stay in the playoff hunt tomorrow night when they travel to Mendota Heights for a 7:00 p.m. game against the Tommies.

“Tomorrow night is going to be another battle for sure,” said Majka about the matchup. “We were there for the MIAC Playoff Championship last year, so we know how they will want to play and what the atmosphere will be like. This is what it’s all about at the end of the season – it should be fun.”

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