The Gustavus men’s hockey team concluded their regular season last weekend with a home victory of 3-1, and a 1-0 win on the road against Bethel University. The Gustie men finished the season with a 15-6-4 overall record and a 12-3-1 record in the MIAC. On top of that, the men finished the season ranked 13th in Division III Men’s Hockey, according to the USCHO poll.
Sweeping Bethel was a great accomplishment for the team as they were a difficult opponent last season. The win this season gave the Gustie men some extra motivation heading into the MIAC playoffs.
“It was a great turnaround from the week before, against St. Thomas. It was good to bounce back and gain some momentum going into the playoffs,” Senior Forward Adam Smyth said.
The men had an opportunity to clinch the number one seed two weeks ago, when they played St. Thomas, who is currently ranked 5th in Division III men’s hockey. However, there were some lessons to be learned, as well as positive things to take away from that particular series.
“We can’t take a shift off. Every shift matters. The good thing that we did was we out played them. We out shot and beat them in every category except the scoreboard,” Junior Defenseman Nate Paulsen said.
“It was a tough series. We played well all weekend, we just didn’t get the bounces and that’s hockey sometimes. We move on from big wins and big losses the same way. You just have to forget about them and move on. It’s as simple as that. In this game you can never be too high or too low, you just have to keep your head level and go play,” Junior Goalie John McLean said.
The team will now set their focus on the MIAC conference playoffs as the number two seed in the playoffs. They will face Saint John’s in their first playoff game this Saturday, March 1, at home. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m. Staying consistent with how they have played this year, as well as playing smart and hard, will be the keys to winning in the playoffs for the men’s hockey team.
“We will just have to continue the things that have got us to this point. We don’t need to change anything we just have to continue to play together as a team and everyone just has to pull their load and we will continue our success,” McLean said.
Despite not securing the number one seed in the MIAC playoffs, the Gustie men had a great regular season. Great team chemistry, as well as great depth and skill lead to a much-improved season compared to last year.
“The first goal is always to make playoffs. That’s a minimum standard. One of the bigger goals is to get everyone on board and bought into the program. Coach Petersen does a great job at getting everybody together, “ Junior Forward Jack Walsh said.
“Our goal was to do better than we did last year. We wanted to beat the teams that we lost to last year. Coach Petersen always wants us to make the playoffs and that’s something we did. This is one of the most skilled teams that I’ve ever played on, top to bottom, and one of the closest knit groups as well. We have accomplished all of our goals so far except for one, and we are still striving to accomplish that ultimate goal,” Smyth said.
In addition to great team chemistry and skill, the team attributes their success this season to the great coaching and leadership from their upperclassmen.
“Working with upperclassmen is always great, because everybody helps each other out. They help the young guys find their place on this team. The senior class has been outstanding this year. We wouldn’t be here without them,” Walsh said.
This Saturday, March 1 the Gustavus men’s hockey team will host Saint John’s at the Don Roberts Ice Arena. Both teams will compete in the playoffs to try to win the MIAC Championship and hopefully, go on to the NCAA National tournament.