MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – Backstopped by goaltender Drew Fielding’s sixth shutout of the season, the No. 14-ranked St. Thomas men’s hockey team took down struggling Bethel University 4-0 Saturday night at St. Thomas Ice Arena.
Bethel came into the contest winless in the MIAC and remained that way after Fielding’s impressive performance. Fielding stopped all 24 shots he faced to earn his 50th career victory at St. Thomas with the win.
“It’s a pretty tremendous honor,” Fielding said. “It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to play that many games (and) to get the opportunity to play 50 and have the confidence from the coaching staff to put me in big games. It’s been a fantastic experience getting to play with so many good players.”
With the 4-0 win, Fielding nabbed his 19th career shutout, but the Tommies (14-4-3 overall, 8-2-2 in MIAC) dominated every facet of the game. St. Thomas out shot Bethel 19-3 in the first period and and 44-24 for the game.
“It was really tough to stay focused early on,” Fielding said. “That’s what’s going to happen when we have such a good team in front of me.”
The game was scoreless until the second period. Forward Jordan Lovick started the scoring with a brilliant move to finish on the short side and beat Bethel goalie Matt Rowe early in the second for his fifth goal of the season. Lovick also chipped in one assist and leads the Tommies with 25 points this year.
The game started getting chippy in the second period when St. Thomas forward Thomas Williams sustained a rib injury after a hard hit from a Bethel defender.
“He might have a broken rib,” coach Jeff Boeser said. “It just disturbs me that we try to get through the weekend healthy, but we’ll just have to see how that plays out. “
The Tommies came alive in the final frame to score three goals in the third period. Forward Cory Kapeller capitalized on a rebound and scored to put the Tommies up 2-0 just over a minute into the third. Forward Michael Dockry added another goal after a beautiful saucer pass from forward Nick Nielsen.
Forward Alex Altenbernd added a shorthanded goal just after the halfway point in the third to extend the Tommie lead to 4-0. It was Altenbernd’s team-leading 12th goal of the season.
“I just kind of pressured their (defenseman),” Altenbernd said. “I was able to put a little fake on the goalie and go backhand, so it was nice to get one there shorthanded. (Fielding) played well, so it was nice to get another insurance goal for him.”
St. Thomas will finish out the year with home-and-home series against rivals Gustavus and St. John’s.
“All four years that I’ve been here, Gustavus has probably been our biggest rival. I’m sure they have a bad taste in their mouth after we beat them last year in the MIAC playoffs,” Fielding said. “With St. John’s … they’ve been on the upswing for sure. They’ve got a fantastic goalie, and it’s a really well-coached team. It’s going to be some good interesting challenges, and that’s the way that we want to be entering playoffs, playing against the best teams in our conference.”
Zach Neubauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.