With the loss of last year’s highest scoring players for the men’s hockey team, the team’s outcome was unknown. They are now in the middle of their season but have not yet reached expectations of previous Gustavus Men’s hockey standards.
Last week, the men’s hockey team had a great comeback against Augsburg. They lost the first game, but displayed a diverse set of skills and teamwork and to come back and win the second game 3-0. Gustavus has an overall record of 5-6-6 at the moment with 2-2-4 in the MIAC.
“We have been decimated throughout the whole season from injuries which began in August,” Coach Brett Peterson said.
Junior John McLean, who was the starter goaltender, tore his labrum and hip back in August. He had surgery on Sept. 1 and just recently started skating again.
“We got healthy over Christmas, but then someone separated their shoulder when we got back. These injuries are one of the reasons why our record at the moment is very average. There has been too many injuries to have any continuity. In hockey, you need continuity for the group to get better,” Peterson said.
“The fans are super loud with all the chants. There is always two guys in banana suits, those guys are pretty fun to have at the games”—Conor Deal
Beside the injuries that have held the team back, two first-years have shown that they belong on the ice. With a combined 1.64 points per game, Conor Deal and Jake Bushey earned high marks from Coach Peterson.
“Both Conor and Jake are leading us in scoring. They are having a really good first year in Gustavus hockey and are having a huge impact. There are no other teams in the conference that have two of their first years leading in scoring besides us. They have really gotten on a good start to their career,” Peterson said.
Conor Deal is fortunately one of the few who have not suffered an injury this season. As one of the top lead scorers, he has a lot of weight on his shoulders to do well and stay healthy.
“We have a great athletic training staff and they’re doing the best they can to get everyone back out on the ice. As for me, I’m glad I’m not injured. I didn’t expect coming in my first year of college that I would produce this well. When you have guys like Blake and Tim as teammates, it’s easy to play with those guys. Like I said, I’ve been surprising myself so hopefully I keep this up during this stretch before playoffs,” Deal said.
Senior Nate Paulsen was not as fortunate this season. He sprained his ankle and was out for 10 weeks. He just got back on the rink during winter break.
“This year is a very different team dynamic. Last year we had certain players who pucked the net regularly, now our team focuses more on team chemistry. Instead of having one or two guys we can count on, everyone on the team is contributing as best they can. We’ve struggled adjusting to that, especially for returners. Now that we have our goalie back and others back from their injuries, I think we have a chance to build off something,” Paulsen said.
One consistent for Gustavus Hockey has been the support from fans and fellow students.
“The fans are super loud with all the chants. There is always two guys in banana suits, those guys are pretty fun to have at the games,” Deal said.
The team will appreciate continued support at their next home game this Sat. Jan. 24 when they host Saint Mary’s University at 7 p.m.