HANCOCK - Friday night at the Houghton County Arena, Finlandia women's hockey freshmen goaltender Taylor Gustafson saved 64 shots.
That is not a misprint.
The freshmen netminder turned in the game of a lifetime, blanking a full handful of one-on-one opportunities while spending seemingly every minute kicking a shot into the corners.
Marian forward Kristin Skubic is denied on the doorstep with a glove save by Finlandia goaltender Taylor Gustafson in the the third period. Gustafson finished the game with 64 saves. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
But as magnificent as that performance was, needing 64 saves from a goalie isn't going to win many games, and it didn't Friday as Finlandia lost 5-1 to Northern Collegiate Hockey Association opponent Marian to drop to 0-3 on the season. The Lions have now been outscored 24-1 through nine periods.
Finlandia head coach Danielle Syrowik spoke before the season of cutting down the number of shots on net, but that is clearly still a work in progress.
"It's a bunch of things," Syrowik said. "At times we aren't taking the right angles and getting in the shooting lanes. A lot of them are chips in front of the net, second rebound opportunities that we have to step up and stop."
Marian 1 2 2 - 5
Finlandia 1 0 0 - 1
First period: 1, MAR, Katie Lindsley (Amanda Reimann, Megan Sesing-Gomoll), 17:50; 2, FU, Sommer O'Shaughnessy (Stephanie D'Ettorre), 19:36.
Second period: 3, MAR, Sesing-Gomoll (Lindsley), 16:06; 4, MAR, Brittany Syms (Sophie Schieldt), 18:00.
Third period: 5, MAR, Kristin Skubic (Rachel Mullendore), 7:53; 6, MAR, Sesing-Gomoll, 19:15.
Goaltending: MAR, Amanda Alexander (14 shots, 1 goal); FU Taylor Gustafson (64 saves, 5 goals).
Four of the five scores came as the rebound variety as the Lions failed to clear first shot attempts or chip the puck out with any consistency.
While Gustafson may have been able to do better with one initial save, the rest of the goals were failures from the Lions skaters to clear garbage away from Gustafson's net.
The winner came on such a play, when Marian forward Megan Sesing-Gomoll scored by bouncing the puck of FU defenseman Sommer O'Shaughnessy's skate.
"We need to be more disciplined in our positioning," Syrowik said. "Sometimes we are too far out not protecting the high slot. We are looking at the puck rather than picking up a player. The goalie is going to make the first stop, but it's those second and thirds we need to stop."
Still, the deficit could have been much worse if Gustafson didn't spend most of the evening standing on her head.
By unofficial count Marian managed six separate breakaways, with Gustafson turning away every one.
"Unbelievable. Just unbelievable," Syrowik said. "That was her first game this year, she is a freshman and that was just a great game. We are looking at starting her tomorrow (which was not the original plan). ... You can't expect anything else."
Gustafson managed to keep her head up and angles sharp, despite facing over 20 shots every period - no easy feat when seeing that much rubber.
"For her to come in as a freshman in her first college game ever and do that is just great," Syrowik said. "Definitely (mentally) tough."
Besides the play of Gustafson, Finlandia did manage one other silver lining with O'Shaughnessy netting the first team goal of the season.
The defensemen scored with a man-advantage in the first period, taking a faceoff pass from the blue line and beating Marian goalie Amanda Alexander quickly.
"She has great skill and she has to get her shot lower, which it was today," Syrowik said. "Definitely effective on the power play."
Currently, the Lions only sport 11 healthy skaters, making it difficult for any one line to jump start the team when it is in a rut.
"It is hard when you are going two lines, it would help if we had a couple more skaters," Syrowik said. "But at the same time we should be able to keep up. It is still hard, but you can't be coasting."