The puck dropped on Friday, Nov. 1 at the annual MIAC Showcase tournament in Blaine, marking the start of the 2013-2014 Gustavus men’s hockey season. The Golden Gusties came away with a 2-1 victory over Bethel, following two second-period goals scored by Senior Gustav Bengston and Junior Tyler Lapic.
Gustavus recorded its first loss of the season the following night, falling to conference rival St. Thomas, 5-3. Despite outshooting the Tommies 32-24, the Gusties’ effort to dig themselves out of an early 5-1 hole fell short.
Junior Defenseman Nate Paulsen said he saw a lot of good things from the team in the opening weekend, aside from the excessive number of penalties.
“Overall, I think we had a good weekend and we outplayed both teams. We took a few too many penalties, especially in that St. Thomas game, and that makes it really hard to get a win,” Paulsen said.
Led by Captains Jack Walsh and Corey Leivermann, the Gusties’ roster is comprised of an age-diverse bunch. Along with 19 returning players, nine first-years will be lacing up their skates this season.
“I’m really impressed [with the team’s chemistry] so far this season, especially with the high number of first-years on the roster. There’s always that learning curve for the new players, coming into a new system and everything, but they’re adapting really well. I think we have as much talent on the team this year as we’ve had in a long time,” Paulsen said.
Junior Forward Jack Walsh also shared his excitement regarding the new players on the roster this season.
“The new guys on the team have been fitting in really well so far. It’s nice because they all have a lot of experience playing at a higher level and they add a lot of depth to our roster,” Walsh said.
The Gusties hope to ride their talent and veteran chemistry to a conference title this year, after falling to St. John’s in the conference championship game last season.
On Friday, Nov. 15, the squad will host their first home game at Don Roberts Arena. According to Junior Defenseman Sam Smith, home games are a very special and irreplaceable part of the season.
“It’s always a pleasure to go out and play in front of the home crowd here. It’s a great place to play, probably as good as it gets in the MIAC,” Smith said.
Smith is not alone in his love for playing in the historic arena. Walsh attributes a part of his enjoyment in playing home games to the large Gustie fan base.
“We probably have the nicest facility in the MIAC to play our games. A lot of that is definitely about the fans—they’re the best out there,” Walsh said.
According to Walsh, the Gusties have been preparing to take on Concordia College on Friday and Saturday with the Cobbers looking for revenge after losing two of three games against Gustavus last season.
“The nice thing about playing conference teams like Concordia is that we’re familiar with their style of play—their power play, their penalty kill, their overall strategy. We spend some time watching film on previous games against them, and then we’ll take the ice and practice as if we’re playing them,” Walsh said.
Out of 18 conference games this season, Gustavus plays Concordia twice, which will place a little more pressure on each player.
In 2012, the Gusties won the MIAC conference championship, and are looking to begin another successful campaign with a promising group of talented players.
“We’re definitely looking for another MIAC championship. Getting a taste of that my first year is something that you want to repeat, and I think we have the guys to do it this year,” Smith said.