Lions look to build off 1st win, face Saints next
HANCOCK — Trailing 4-3 with just under four minutes left in the third period Thursday night, the Finlandia Lions men’s hockey team, searching for their first win of the season, took an ill-advised penalty with 3:41 remaining in the contest.
The Concordia Wisconsin Falcons scored twice on the major penalty to seal a 6-3 win.
Head coach Joe Burcar did not pull any punches after the game about the letdown that penalty, and the four others that led to goals, cost the team.
“We’ve played three games so far,” Burcar said. “I even said earlier (Thursday) that wouldn’t be an issue and shame on me. I didn’t see that coming. I thought we learned our lesson. I’m disappointed. I’m truly disappointed because we work so hard to get back in that game, and it’s just disappointing.”
Looking for a better effort on Saturday, Burcar got it from the Lions. They were whistled for six penalties in the, but only three put them a man down. The Falcons, who scored five power play goals Thursday, only scored twice on the advantage Saturday.
More importantly, the Lions answered when the Falcons jumped out to a 1-0 lead on an early power play. Freshman Lukas Lyszyk scored just 1:48 to even things.
The goal was just what the Lions needed.
“I think it was a great response,” Burcar said. “There was no panic on the bench. I just think there is so much resiliency in this group that they just weren’t going to allow it to happen.
“The quick response was, it was perfect.”
The game remained 1-1 beyond the halfway point of the third period. That changed when assistant captain Cale Markham found the back of the net at 11:50, putting the Lions up 2-1.
Burcar and his staff had changed the lines from what they had been for the first three games of the season, and they challenged Markham to be a better leader, and he came through with a key tally.
“He’s a senior,” Burcar said. “He’s an assistant captain. He responded, playing on a different line taking a different role. He responded right away and played a solid game.”
Finding themselves on the penalty kill again with just over two minutes left in regulation. The Falcons struck 20 seconds into the advantage to even the game again.
Rather than fold under the pressure, the Lions fought to the end of regulation. Then, just 29 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime, freshman defenseman Blake Gutterman scored to give the Lions their first win of the season.
Burcar was proud of the way his team handled the late-game tying goal and the way they charged out in overtime.
“There was just a calming presence on the bench from not only the coaches, but the captains,” said Burcar. “The goal scored with Tyler Vanuden, Tyler Perkins and Blake Gutterman, we kept that on film. That’s something that you can teach because it was executed extremely well.
“We could have cashed in, but there was no panic. I think that was a thing throughout the game. They were just ready to play. They knew what they needed to do. They knew they let it get away on Thursday.”
Gutterman scored on the power play on Thursday before scoring the game-winner on Saturday. Burcar is excited to see the youngster step up when the team has needed him to.
“He’s gonna be a difference maker,” Burcar said. “We knew that coming in. He scores Thursday on a power play. He’s just taken on a bigger role, in the third and fourth games of his young career and has executed at a high level.”
Saints march to town
This weekend, the Lions (1-3, 1-3 NCHA) will face the St. Scholastica Saints for a home-and-home series on Friday and Saturday. The Saints (2-5, 1-3 NCHA) split last weekend with Lawrence, losing Friday, 7-3, before winning 5-4 in overtime Saturday.
Junior Michael Talbot is tied for the team lead in goals (5) and leads the team in points (8). Sophomore Tyler Hinterser has gotten off to a good start as well, with three goals and five points.
The Saints have used a pair of goaltender in senior Nick Trenciansky and freshman Jack Bostedt. Bostedt’s numbers are better, going 2-1-0 thus far with a 3.14 goals against average and a .904 save percentage.
The Lions and Saints face off at 8 p.m. Friday at Mars Lakeview Arena in Duluth, Minnesota. Saturday, the teams face off at 7 p.m. at the Houghton County Arena.