Men’s Hockey enters postseason action: Gusties prepare for first tournament appearance since 2014

The Gustavus men’s hockey team concluded their regular season last weekend when the squad took on St. John’s on consecutive nights. The team split the MIAC matchups, ending their regular season with an overall record of 10-12-3 and a MIAC conference record of 9-7. The 9-7 conference record earned the team the four-seed heading into the MIAC Playoffs, something the team has not accomplished since 2014.

“In regard to our regular season as a whole, I can acknowledge that we had our ups and downs just like every other collegiate team, but we were able to produce a winning record in conference play, giving us a look into playoffs, something we haven’t been able to accomplish the last few years,” Senior Colin Hernon said. The Gusties are set to play five-seed Concordia this Thursday, February 22 right here at Gustavus at 7:05 p.m.

When it comes to the MIAC men’s hockey playoffs, all five of the participating teams, which also includes St. Thomas, Saint John’s, and Augsburg, have a fighting chance at the title.

Members of the hockey team line up with a Johnnies defender for a faceoff.

“I feel as a group, we are ready for some playoff hockey, and I think the guys could not care less if we were first or fifth seed. One thing I’ve learned over the last three years is that there is so much parity in MIAC hockey. Any team can win on any given night, and I am confident in the personnel we have this season,” Hernon said. This theory is believed throughout the team’s locker room.

“We are confident heading into playoffs. We know all five teams in the playoffs this year can beat each other, but we are confident that if we are able to put together a full 60 minutes of hockey that we can be MIAC champions,” Senior Assistant Captain Jake Bushey said. This confidence leads right into one of the team’s goals established this season: to win a MIAC Championship.

“Our team has a goal of winning a MIAC championship this season. We know this starts with our game Thursday night,” Bushey said. The team expects great things for this postseason, but must take things one game at a time.

“We believe we are just as good, if not better than any team in the MIAC. If we stick to our game, play our way, and take it one game at a time, then we expect nothing short of winning the MIAC,” Senior Nick Sheak said. Therefore, all of the team’s focus right now is on Thursday’s matchup with Concordia. The team has already taken the ice with Concordia three times this season, winning one game in a shootout at a tournament early in the season, and splitting the two conference games earlier this month.

“I feel as a group we are ready for some playoff hockey, and I think the guys could not care less if we were first or fifth seed.” — Colin Hernon

“The (Concordia) regular season series is relatively recent, so it will have a big impact for both teams as video from that weekend will be used by both sides to be ready for the quarterfinal game Thursday,” Bushey said. The Gusties are definitely doing everything in their power to prepare for the big game.

“We know that Concordia always shows up ready to compete. I think the three most important factors for us will be coming out in the first period with more energy, playing extremely physical, but also staying disciplined throughout the entire game,” Hernon said. While the two teams can study film and past experiences all that they want to prepare for Thursday, one thing will be unique about the meeting between the Gusties and the Cobbers this time around: the playoff atmosphere.

“We know what to expect from Concordia, but the playoffs demand another level from the group that I believe we can reach. Let’s get the Don rockin’!” Sheak said.

While this may be the first college playoff game for nearly every member of the team, the Golden Gusties of Gustavus are ready to take their first step toward a MIAC Championship.