Nyden Hill – Staff Writer
This past Friday, the Gustavus women’s hockey team took the ice in their contest against Lake Forest. For just their second game and home game of the season, Gustie fans turned out in full support, totaling 488 in attendance.
“After we come out and look up into the stands, it really motivates us so much because we have so many people watching,” said Senior forward Clara Billings.
With their historic season last year in mind, the Gusties had high expectations and hopes placed on them by both their fans and themselves.
“I feel like I expect our team to not really dwell on last season. We had a great season, but we should really try to take it one step at a time. The national tournament is a long ways away, so it is really important to not get ahead of ourselves and build the foundation to win games,” said Billings.
With this being the second game of the season for the Gusties, the results of their first matchup were comforting, but likely not quite the start that the Gusties had envisioned. Their match ended in a 1-0 victory against Augsburg.
“Our very first game of the season against Augsburg was very useful for us to get some rust off of our play. We were only able to play one exhibition game this season so all of the veterans were still getting back into the swing of things while the new freshman were still getting used to the pace of the game. After only winning that first game 1-0, we took goal scoring very seriously in practice the following week which helped fuel us to score seven goals the next game. We will continue to have this as one of our main goals in practice every week seeing that we are able to get 40-50 shots on net per game and need to be able to capitalize those opportunities,” said Junior forward Brooke Power.
With this in mind, the Gusties wasted no time establishing themselves as being in the driver’s seat. From the moment the first period began, the Gusties maintained almost-complete puck control and looked as if they were already in playoff form. This control continued until a Lake Forest penalty put the Gusties at an advantage with the start of power play.
The Gusties wasted no time taking advantage of this by Power netting a goal just 6 minutes into the action to give the Gusties a 1-0 lead. Even though this goal was her first of the season, Power is in no way unfamiliar with scoring goals in bunches, as she led the MIAC in goals last season, ranking seventh overall in the country.
“After having a strong sophomore year, it is important for me to carry my skill abilities and confidence over into my junior year. All summer long, I had this same thought going through my head each and every day I stepped into the weight room or onto the ice. I hope to use what I learned throughout all last season as well as the new things from the summer and this year so far to be as strong as last year, or even better, without letting the pressure get to me,” said Power.
However, this would not be the only goal of the first period. Even with power play coming to a conclusion, the Gusties had no difficulty smothering the Forester offense. The Gusties rattled off shot after shot on the goal until a shot by First-Year forward Lily Mortenson found its mark to give the Gusties a 2-0 lead. This marked Mortenson’s first career goal as a Gustie, with this just being her second ever game.
“Scoring your first goal is always something you’re going to remember. The whole game, I was really determined to score. A lot of my family was there and it was really nice for it to be at home,” said Mortenson.
Just 30 seconds after this goal, another goal by Senior forward Hailey Holland gave the Gusties a 3-0 lead just slightly over halfway through the first period. After this goal, the Gusties tried their best to keep this momentum rolling by keeping control of the puck and firing off shot after shot until the buzzer sounded to signal an end to the first period.
For the start of the second period, the story of the game was much the same. The Gusties remained in seemingly-complete control of the outcome of the game, punctuated by a goal courtesy of Billings just 1:43 into the action.
At 12:03, a Lake Forest roughing penalty gave the Gusties the advantage in numbers on power play. They took no time to take advantage as less than 10 seconds later Senior defenseman Kayla Vrieze scored a goal courtesy of an assist by Holland. Just five minutes after this goal, Billings recorded her second goal of the outing, coming from an assist by Sophomore forward Emily Olson to give the Gusties a 6-0 lead.
While these flurries of action in the second period were very entertaining and encouraging for the Gusties, the final goal of the game didn’t come until the 10 minute mark, where Power scored her second goal on power play to give the Gusties a commanding 7-0 lead to end the game.
“Our team was very successful in the game on Friday night, but specifically during the power play. Special teams is something our team is very passionate about and continues to work hard on each and every week of practice. On Friday, our power play went 3-0, scoring every time we had the power play opportunity. We were successful in this since we used our teammates, played selfless, and moved around the entire time to mess with the other team’s penalty kill setup, allowing the opportunity for two individual goals and a total of three power play goals. Our team also stayed out of the box allowing us to never be a man down and keep the strong momentum throughout the entire game,” said Power.
While the Gustie offense clearly shined, the defensive prowess of Senior goalie Katie McCoy did not go unnoticed. McCoy posted another shutout for the Gusties, as she had previously done in the game against Augsburg. McCoy had this to say about her performance.
“I faced basically nothing. The defense did a great job at keeping them away and taking away their opportunities,” said McCoy.
With this strong start to their season in mind, the Gusties take on St. Scholastica on Nov. 10 at home. We wish them the best of luck as they hope to build on their 2021-2022 season with an even more historic 2022-2023 season.