With the loss of NCAA D-III Player of the Year David Martinson to graduation, there have been a couple of stages of grief in the Gusties’ camp.
First, there was the tribute phase.
“That’s a special, special player that comes around maybe once in a lifetime as a coach,” said Gusties coach Brett Petersen, entering his 11th season.
Then comes the harsh reality of replacing the departed player’s career 76 goals and 55 assists compiled in 85 games. Sorrow eventually turns into acceptance.
“We’re not trying to replace him,” the coach says. “We need to find ways to get production out of other guys, but to try to replace David with one kid will be a tough task for everyone.”
Martison’s exit might have been a bit more palatable if it wasn’t for the team losing half of last season’s squad that finished first and reached the NCAA D-III quarterfinals. Sixteen members of the 28-man Gustavus roster is new, including 11 freshmen.
MIAC coaches picked the Gusties to finish fourth in their preseason poll. The team was 3-1 after four contests, which included a two-game sweep of Augsburg and St. Mary’s at the MIAC Showcase Oct. 29-31. The team also edged nonconference opponent Wisconsin-River Falls, 2-0, on Nov. 6.
Though the winning start was nice, the dearth of goals remains a concern, Petersen says. The Gusties had only scored nine times in four games.
“Our biggest concern as a staff, which is attributable to our overall youth, is just our inability to score goals,” the coach said. “I think that will come in time. “Whether that will happen this year is too early to tell.”
In junior forward Ross Ring-Jarvi, the team has a proven point-getter. He had a goal and three assists so far this season.
While playing with Martison though, Ring-Jarvi racked up 16 goals and 24 assists last season and 10 goals and 21 assists as a freshmen.
“We’re going to find out here over the course of time what Ross can do without David,” Petersen said.
If Ring-Jarvi falls short of previous benchmarks, it won’t be for a lack of effort. The Gusties coach terms the 6-foot power forward a “coach’s dream.
“He loves the game in every aspect and will flat out not let other people outwork him,” Petersen said. “That is in the offensive zone, the defensive zone and everything in between.
“He will run his head through the wall for you.”