Eamonn McCullough – Staff Writer
The month of January finished out with a weekend of ups and downs on the road for Gustie men’s hockey team. The team’s first intercollegiate game since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic was a non-conference matchup with Augsburg on Friday, Jan. 29, which resulted in a 7-2 loss.
Although Augsburg brought the heat early in the game, establishing a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period and outscoring Gustavus 10-9 in the first twenty minutes, the Gusties struck back in force. A power play goal early in the second period by Senior Nick Klishko and a down-to-the-wire shot by Junior Dan Sandvig with 35 seconds before intermission levelled the score to 3-2. Unfortunately, the Auggies took advantage of two more power plays and an additional scoring opportunity in the third period, as well as a final goal within the last minute of regulation play, to dole the 7-2 loss out to the Gusties. Senior Robbie Goor was hard at work in the net throughout the game, making 23 saves.
On the evening of Saturday, Jan. 30, the Gusties dusted themselves off and drove to Winona, MN for another non-conference matchup, this time against St. Mary’s University. Gustavus came onto the ice with fire in their hearts, outshooting the SMU Cardinals 10-4 in the first period, although not a single puck managed to find the goal. It took over ten minutes into the second period for the first goal to be scored, by Saint Mary’s. The Gusties did not take that affront lying down, however, as mere minutes later Junior Tyler Ebner sank his first goal of the season with an assist from First-year Nick Mueller. A series of rapid goals from St. Mary’s in the twilight of the second period and dawn of the third levelled the score to 4-1 Cardinals, but the Gusties weren’t done yet. Two unassisted goals in the third period, from Senior Logan Norman and Senior Caleb Anderson respectively, brought the score to 4-3, although the Cardinals would hold on to their lead through the end of regulation and hand the Gusties another non-conference road loss.
Also starting their season this past week, the Gustavus women’s hockey team hosted Bethel on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 2 in a non-conference matchup. The game was played defensively throughout the first two periods, and although the Gusties outshot Bethel 11-6 over that timeframe, the score resolutely refused to budge from 0-0 going into the third period. The Bethel Royals found an opening within the first five minutes of the third to bring the score to 1-0, only to be answered by Junior Tina Press, who scored her first goal of the season only seconds later.
The Gusties established a strong offensive presence for the remainder of the game, emptying the net to put another scoring player on the ice. They, unfortunately, were stymied as the Royals scored twice more to bring the score to 3-1. With less than a minute left in the game, First Year Sophia Coltvet drove home an unassisted goal, the first of her college career, to close the gap to a mere point.
The tension in the Don Roberts ice rink could be felt by fans through their life-stream screens as the Gusties once again emptied the net for an offensive charge, but Bethel was able to twist the move to their advantage and score once again, winning the game 4-2. The Gustie women look forward to their first conference match of the season at home against the University of St. Thomas at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Although their seasons are off to a less-than-desirable start, both the Gustie men’s and women’s hockey teams are thrivent in their ability to compete once more and have nowhere to go but up.