MANKATO — A costly turnover late in the third period on Saturday led to the lone goal of the game between Mankato East/Loyola and South St. Paul on Saturday, and the Packers escaped All Seasons Arena with a 1-0 nonconference win.
The loss snapped the Cougars' three-game winning streak.
Goaltending highlighted the game, especially the first period of action. Both netminders saw their fair share of action between the pipes, facing more than 12 shots each in the opening 17 minutes.
Cougars senior goaltender Jack Cusey made several nice stops, including a flashy glove save with less than five minutes left and finished the game stopping 28 of 29 shots. His Packers counterpart, sophomore Brady Gallahue, though, was perfect on the afternoon, stopping all 36 shots he faced, including 16 in the third period.
The Cougars pressured the Packers' defense and goaltender all game with several odd-man opportunities, but couldn’t capitalize. With just under seven minutes left in the game, Gallahue thwarted freshman forward Jacob Kanzenbach's breakaway opportunity.
“That was probably one of the better goaltenders we’ve played against all year.” East/Loyola coach Adam Fries said.
Fries was quick to add that at this level of hockey you’re going to have to find ways to beat good goaltenders.
“We’re a young team; we have a lot of years ahead of us," he said, "but we’re going to have to learn how to beat those kinds of kids and put the puck in the net.”
The game-winning goal came with 3:36 remaining in the third period off a turnover in the Cougars' defensive zone. Packers sophomore defenseman Owen Ramirez scored as he walked into the slot and shot blocker side past Cusey. Ramirez was assisted by Nathan Brandecker and Cam Kluender.
“They were small, but they were quick and they played physical and hard. I definitely think we matched them throughout the game and at the end of it they got that late goal and the turnover’s what killed us.” Cusey said.
The Cougars were scoreless on two power plays, one in the second period and one in the second half of the third. Gallahue made one of his best saves of the game during the second-period penalty on Adam Burke. East/Loyola had a couple scoring opportunities, and a shot from the point caught Gallahue out of position. However, he was able to make the save and kill off the Cougars' attack.