The men’s hockey team continued its hot streak Wednesday night, beating Gustavus Adolphus College in overtime 2-1 to win the MIAC Championship.
Sophomore forward Chris Hickey lit the lamp with his fifth goal of the season just four minutes into the overtime period in a scramble in front of the net. Senior Parker Burgess and junior Rob Johnson set up Hickey, who took a quick snap shot from the outer edge of the crease, beating Gustie goaltender Josh Swartout to the upper right-hand corner of the net.
“It was just a scrum off the boards,” Hickey said. “All game long we wanted to beat the guys to the net, and I was so happy for it to fall on my stick. It was a little puck-luck. I mean, you gotta to be in the right place at the right time, and I just put it in, and I couldn’t believe it went in.”
Gustavus continued the shooting clinic they started last Saturday night in the MIAC semifinals against Augsburg where they posted a record 104 shots. The high-powered offense, led by leading scorer David Martinson, challenged St. Thomas senior goalie Joe Schraeder with 39 shots in the game.
Schraeder was up to the challenge, though, playing one of his best career games and keeping the Tommies in it throughout.
“[Schraeder] was amazing,” Hickey said. “It was one of the best goaltending performances I’ve ever seen. I mean, just to save the puck diving left, diving right; he kept us in the game. Joe goalie has played on top of his head, and he deserves so much credit for this game.”
The only goal that Schraeder gave up came five minutes into the first period when the Tommie defense coughed up the puck deep in their end, giving Gustavus senior forward Eric Bigham and teammate T.J Ridley a two-man breakaway. Ridley got the pass low in the slot and beat Schraeder top shelf.
Ridley’s goal gave Gustavus a lead, which it would hold until nearly six minutes into the third period when Tommie junior forward Andrew Kappers found the back of the net on a power play.
“We won the faceoff and had control [but] had a little turnover,” Kappers said. “Their guy tried to ice it, and it hit their own guy, and [Riley] Horgan got the pass and made a great pass to me, and I was just sitting on the backdoor waiting to bank it in.”
Both goalies had made game-saving stops lat in the third period, including one diving save by Schraeder that got the entire Tommie crowd cheering and left the Gusties speechless.
“Their guy was backdoor, wide open, and I just dove across and got it with my arm,” Schraeder said. “Then we thought we had them there at the end of the game with about 30 seconds left, but [Swartout] made the save. Both were great saves.”
St. Thomas had the momentum going into the overtime period, despite being out shot 36-20, but in the end, it was Hickey and the Tommies hoisting the Saugestad Cup trophy.
The win gives St. Thomas their seventh consecutive win and their first MIAC championship since the 07-08 season. With the win, St. Thomas improved to 13-10-4 and earned the MIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The team credited its recent success to Schraeder and his outstanding play between the pipes and hopes to carry the momentum into the NCAA tournament.
“We just got to keep the train moving,” Hickey said. “Our team is playing great right now. Everyone is playing top-notch, and I think we can even get better. We will take the momentum from this game and the momentum from last game. I think we have a lot of confidence, and we will see how far we can take it.”
Brian Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.