St. Peter, Minn. - In what was an up-and-down hockey game, special teams was the difference. With less than two minutes remaining in the contest, Gustavus Adolphus senior Ross Ring-Jarvi scored the game-winning goal on the power play to give the Gusties a 3-2 win over St. Scholastica Friday night at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Gustavus picks up its sixth-straight victory and improves to 8-4-2 overall. St. Scholastica falls to 7-4-2 with the loss.
Gustavus came out firing on all cylinders to start the game, controlling the zone and dictating play for much of the opening five minutes. Junior forward Sam Blaisdell put the Gusties on the board first with his second goal of the season at the 5:12 mark of the first period. Blaisdell redirected a shot fired by sophomore blueliner Alex Gallen from the right point into the top corner for the go-ahead goal. Gallen, a recent transfer from Mercyhurst, records his first career point as a Gustie with the assist.
From Blaisdell's goal to the end of the period, it was all St. Scholastica. The Saints had a 13-to-5 edge in the shots and generated numerous opportunities on the power by the end of the period. Despite the letup, Gustavus carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
"The way we started the game was very impressive, and to get that first goal was huge for us. I thought we had the energy and the sense of urgency right away and it was great to watch our guys roll," commented assistant coach Jared Phillips. "A couple minutes after that and all of a sudden we are on our heels and scrambling. John made a huge save on a two-on-one cross-crease pass and we were able to go into the locker room up 1-0. It was a little disappointing to end the period the way we did."
Gustavus responded with a strong start to the second period, scoring at the 3:20 mark to go up 2-0. Freshman defenseman Nate Paulsen tallied his first collegiate goal on a screen shot from the left point that found its way into the back of the net. Freshman forward Blake Schammel got the assist after putting the puck on Paulsen's stick off a clean face-off win.
Facing the second-ranked power play in the country entering the game, the Gustie penalty killers knew their hands were full. Gustavus was able to kill two minors before St. Scholastica's Jeremy Dawes scored at the 7:22 mark on the man advantage to cut the lead to 2-1. Gustavus' penalty-killing streak ended at 23 with the Dawes goal.
A checking from behind call at the 8:43 mark of the second period sparked a four-minute span of whistles and players heading to the penalty box. Saint Brett Corcoran was disqualified for the checking from behind penalty and a five-minute major was awarded to Gustavus. At the same minute-mark (8:43), sophomore forward Zach May was sent to the box for facemasking and Chris Sinclair was sent in for roughing. Less than two minutes later, Cody Danychuk was given a five-minute major for checking and Gustavus had a 5-on-3 advantage for a majority of the period.
In what was a big swing of momentum, Gustavus was held scoreless by the time the final St. Scholastica penalty expired. The Gusties generated just four shots in nearly ten minutes on the power play.
"There were so many whistles in that second period that we were able to keep our power play units on the ice and fresh," commented Phillips on the Gustavus power play in the second period. "The problem was that there wasn't enough puck movement and we weren't generating anything. We were getting shots blocked, passes picked off, and pucks sent down the rink and that is what you can't do."
The Saint power play went back to work at the start of the third period when Brandon Nowakowski tied the game at 2-2 with St. Scholastica's second power play goal of the game. The Saints would finish 2-for-3 on the man advantage.
After nearly 17 minutes of scoreless back-and-forth hockey, Ross Ring-Jarvi had had enough. After several good looks inside a crisp power play, Ringo got the puck from Ryan Johnson at the top of the left circle, firing a no-doubter into the top right corner of the net with 1:49 on the clock. The goal is Ring-Jarvi's fifth of the season and second game-winner. Gustavus finished 1-for-5 on the power play.
"The way in which that power play operated and the way in which we scored was such a relief for the team and coaching staff. To see things work out after the way the second period went, you never would have guessed it," Phillips said.
The Saints outshot the Gusties 30–to-22 in the game. Gustavus is now 4-1-1 when it is outshot by its opponent. The final face-off tally ended up an even 40-to-40. Ryan Johnson was outstanding on the dots throughout the game, going 14-4 on the draw.
Freshman goaltender John McLean turned away 28-of-30 shots, including several key saves on breakaway opportunities. McLean improves to 7-3-0 on the year with the win and has now won six straight games.
"John is playing great for us and he had another great game tonight. St. Scholastica was able to tip the ice on us at times tonight and John was there to make some big saves," commented Phillips on the play of McLean. "He is starting to develop a real calming influence on our guys and that's great to see because he works really hard at his craft."
Colin Rundell suffered the loss for the Saints, falling to 4-4-2 on the year after a 19-save effort.
"The guys will be ready to go at it tomorrow and we'll see if we can't get another win and keep the momentum going," said Phillips.
The Gusties will cap the weekend with another non-conference home test tomorrow night when they host UW-Superior at 7:05 p.m. at Don Roberts Ice Rink.