Luna Walker – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Men’s Hockey team has their eyes set on yet another championship, bouncing back from a 5-2 opening night loss against Lawrence University by securing a 7-4 victory over the Vikings, giving them their first win of the season. With that win in their pockets, the Golden Gusties move to a 1-1 record.
In their first game of the season, it seemed that for every step Gustavus took, the Vikings were two steps ahead. Every goal by the Gusties was followed by another goal from the Vikings, and the Gusties struggled to contain the Vikings offense early on. Goalie Junior Justin Damon played valiantly, making sure the Vikings couldn’t blow out Gustavus, and allowing the Gusties to fight back and score two goals to the Vikings’ five.
An outstanding performance to note in the second game of the series was that of Sophomore Jackson Hjelle. Hjelle made twenty-three saves in the second game of the series against the Vikings and only allowed them to score four goals to Gustavus’ seven, and the win over the Vikings can be credited to this feat. Look to see great things from your starting goalie Hjelle this season.
This team knows how to operate under pressure, and that can be seen through the assists by multiple players, such as Sophomore Stanislav Danaev, First-year Micah Gernander, Senior Nick Klischko. With an assist from Danaev and Gernander, Koralev scored his first goal to outshoot the Vikings to a 2-1 lead early in the game. After the second period of the second game in the series, the score was tied 3-3, and the Gusties pushed on. At the thirteen minute mark of the third period, First-year Brandon McNamara earned his first goal, sniping in a shot on a breakaway caused by a simple Vikings’ puck handling mistake.
The defense this season is looking to be unrelenting as they pulled out all the stops to secure this win. Breakaways at the last second, deflected slapshots, and sneaky goals from Gustavus helped push this locomotive of a defense to clinch the victory. “Great first win for our team,” Head Coach Brett Petersen said. “I am really pleased with how our young group responded tonight.”
Coach Petersen believes in this team, and although it can be hard to see your team lose, it was a great success to tackle the Vikings and march into a 1-1 record. His words reflect just how strong this team has become, and this squad has a lot in store for us this season. Game, does in fact, recognize game.
This team is coming off a season of decreased play due to the pandemic, in which we saw losses to MIAC teams like Augsburg and St. Marys, but this 2021 squad is not the same as it was last year. These young men have trained their tails off in the offseason to make an impact in the conference, and although they are starting off slow, the momentum is only building from here.
“The Gusties are next in action when they host a weekend WIAC series against UW-Stevens Point on Friday and UW-Stout on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7:00 p.m,” Skylar Abrego said.