By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER —
As far as the Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team is concerned, the playoffs have already started.
With four games remaining in the regular season, the Gusties are in a three-way tie for fifth place in the MIAC standings, and the top five teams make the postseason.
“We knew going in that we were going to have a tight race,” Gustavus coach Brett Petersen said. “We knew there would be an awful lot of parity in our league, and we’ve shown that so far.”
Gustavus will play two teams ahead of them in the standings the rest of the way, starting this weekend with St. Mary’s. The Cardinals are tied for third place with St. John’s, sitting just one point ahead of the Gusties, Concordia and Bethel. Gustavus will close the season against first-place St. Olaf.
The Gusties have battled injuries much of the year, including losing their top two goalies, John McLean and Patrick Sullivan for the season. Senior Tyler Venne has played all nine games since Dec. 7. He has a .899 save percentage and a 2.73 goals-against average.
Junior forward Adam Smyth was named the MIAC’s player of the week after his six-point series against Hamline last weekend. Gustavus defeated the Pipers 7-4 and 4-2, and Smythe scored two goals and assisted on four others. The Burnsville native leads Gustavus in scoring with 18 points, with his 10 goals ranking fourth in the MIAC. He has nine points, including five goals, in his last four games.
“He’s made a good late push since Christmas,” Petersen said. “The key for him is he’s starting to shoot more.”
The Gusties have also received a boost from the arrival of Mankato’s Corey Leivermann. The junior who transferred from Minnesota State during the semester break, has a goal and four assists in six games.
“We’re happier than heck that he’s here,” Petersen said. “He’s been terrific in the locker room. He’s been a great addition.”
Mavs land recruit
Jordan Nelson, a forward for the United States Hockey League’s Fargo Force, has committed to play for Minnesota State next season.
The Williston, N.D., native won that state’s Mr. Hockey Award in 2010 and is in his third year of junior hockey. He played one season with Alexandria of the North American Hockey League before going to Fargo, which made him its first pick (ninth overall) in the 2011 USHL entry draft.
The 5-foot-11, 186-pounder has 16 goals and 11 points in 42 games this season.
Record streak ends
The Gustavus women’s 18-game winning streak came to a halt when they tied Wisconsin-Superior 1-1 on Tuesday night.
The streak was a school record, one better than the 17-game run the Gusties achieved in 2006-07 and again in 2007-08.
Neither of the top two teams in Division III have a loss, as Plattsburgh and Gustavus are a combined 38-0-3.
The Gusties have six regular-season games remaining, starting Friday at home against St. Mary’s.
Mankato East/Loyola senior and future Minnesota State player Savannah Quandt suffered a broken wrist in the Cougars’ final game of the regular season Saturday.
However, the defenseman said she plans to play with a cast in tonight’s opening game of the Section 2A playoffs against Le Sueur-Henderson/St. Peter/Tri-City United at All Seasons Arena.
Quandt ranks third on the team in scoring with 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points. Forwards Maddie McCargar (22 goals, 50 points) and Rebekah Kolstad (27 goals, 48 points) rank first and second.
East/Loyola is the second seed in the section. Mound-Westonka is the top seed. Fifth-seeded Mankato West plays today at Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato.