By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER — The Gustavus Adolphus men’s hockey team suffered a big loss on Friday night.
And that wasn’t just the 6-0 defeat at the hands of MIAC foe St. Thomas.
Gusties sophomore goaltender John McLean suffered what appeared to be a significant right ankle injury with about 3 minutes remaining in the first period.
The 6-foot-8 “Big John” — as he’s called, even during pregame introductions — got hurt on a non-contact play as he tried to swipe his stick at a loose puck to get it out of harm’s way. He had to be assisted off the ice and was unable to put any weight on the injured leg. He left the arena on crutches to get x-rays.
The Gusties also lost their leading scorer, junior Gustav Bengston, to an apparent knee injury.
“We’re decimated with injuries,” coach Brett Petersen said.
The loss was the third in a row for the Gusties (3-4-0, 0-3-0 in MIAC) and their second straight shutout. St. Thomas goalie Tyrone Simcoe finished with 21 saves, including one on Zach May’s penalty shot midway through the first period.
“We’re going to get some bodies healthy in January,” Petersen said. “But I worry that we’ll dig ourselves into too big a hole eventually. But it’s early.”
The game between two teams tied for 12th in the latest national poll was scoreless before McLean got hurt. He had stopped seven shots and helped the Gusties kill off two penalties.
McLean was replaced with senior Tyler Venne, who, at 5-9, is 11 inches shorter than Big John. However, Venne has had solid career numbers and, along with McLean and sophomore Patrick Sullivan, was off to a good start this season.
However, he wasn’t allowed to get as comfortable as his predecessor.
Michael Kreig scored a power-play goal on St. Thomas’ first shot on Venne, which came off the faceoff immediately following McLean’s injury, and the Tommies poured on four goals on eight shots in the second period.
Riley Horgan finished with a goal and two assists, while Chris Cass scored two goals. Alex Niestrom and Willi Rose had the other goals. The Tommies were 3 for 7 on the power play.
The Gusties will try to snap a four-game losing streak to the Tommies (4-2-1, 3-0-0) when the two teams play again at 7:30 p.m. today in Mendota Heights.
“We’re faced with some early adversity,” Petersen said, “which this group hasn’t had. And they’ve been together for a long time.”
Note: In other Gustavus goaltending news, former goalie Josh Swartout on Thursday was named one of two finalists for the Minnesota Wild’s Bud Light Search for the Next Paul Deutsch contest. Swartout will compete against Treye Kettwick in a shootout on Sunday during an American Hockey League game between the Houston Aeros and Rockford Icehogs at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The winner will be named the Wild’s next emergency goalie, a chance given to Deutsch, the 51-year-old beer-league player, last season. Swartout is 24 and played at Gustavus from 2007 to 2011.