The Gustavus women’s hockey team saw its dream of winning a national championship come to an end on Friday afternoon with a 7-3 loss to Middlebury College in Elmira, New York. The Gusties played very well through the first period and were tied at 1-1 after the first 20 minutes. The second period, however was not as productive for Gustavus as the team allowed four Middlebury goals and fell behind 5-1 heading into the third period. The Gusties battled valiantly through the final 20 minutes but came up on the short end against the Panthers. Gustavus will now play Plattsburgh State, which lost 4-3 to host Elmira on Saturday at 3:30 pm for third place.
The game started out at a very quick pace with both teams pushing the puck aggressively up and down the ice. The Panthers got the first the good scoring opportunity five minutes into the contest when Shannon Sylvester got free in front of the Gustavus net and deflected a pass by Abby Kurtz-Phelan right at Gustie goaltender Kara Meyer. Meyer came up with the point blank save of Sylvester’s shot to keep the Panthers at bay. Middlebury would make good on its next opportunity however, as senior forward Emily Quizon broke free behind the Gustavus defense and slid the pick between Meyer’s legs to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead at the 13:28 mark. The Gusties would charge back and net the equalizer when freshman forward Molly Doyle re-directed senior forward Laura Stypulkowski’s pass just past the stick of Middlebury goaltender Kate Kogut at 15:11 of the opening period. The first period ended with score tied 1-1 and Gustavus holding a slim 6-4 advantage in shots.
Middlebury picked up the pace at the beginning of the second period and clearly put Gustavus on the defensive with their aggressive forecheck. The Panthers would start to distance themselves from the Gusties with two goals just two minutes apart in the second period. Emily Quizon gave Middlebury a 2-1 lead with her second goal of the game at the 4:28 mark and then Abby Kurtz-Phelan extended the lead to 3-1 with a power-play goal at the 6:41 mark. Gustavus managed to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard for the next 10 minutes, but Middlebury broke the game open with two goals :30 seconds apart in the 18th minute. Gloria Velez made the score 4-1 at 17:24 and then Lorna Gifis increased the lead to 5-1 at 17:52. The Panthers charged into the lockerroom with a commanding 5-1 lead.
Gustavus got a break just :40 seconds into the third period when Middlebury was whistled for two penalties on the same possession, giving the Gusties a 5-on-3 advantage for two minutes. The Gusties peppered Middlebury’s Kate Kogut for the entire two minutes and had multiple scoring opportunities but could not take get the puck past Kogut who made several big saves. Shortly after the Gusties power play opportunity, Middlebury was given a chance with the advantage and the Panthers took only :17 seconds to increase their lead to 6-1 on a goal by Ellen Sargent at 7:57. Gustavus kept the pressure on Middlebury and finally registered its second goal at the 9:18 mark n an unassisted power play goal by Brittany Northagen . Trailing 7-2, Gustavus coach Mike Carroll pulled his goaltender for the extra skater with 3:35 left in the game. The Gusties were able to take advantage and cut the lead to 6-3 when Andrea Peterson scored with :25 left in the game. On the ensuing face-off, Middlbury’s Lorna Gifis found the Gusties open net at the 19:25 mark to make the final score 7-3 in favor of the Panthers.
The Gusties posted an NCAA record 25 shot on goal in the third period, while Middlebury’s Kate Kogut registered an NCAA record 23 saves in the period. Gustavus did end up out-shooting Middlebury 36-22 in the contest. Kogut registered 33 saves in a winning effort, while the Gusties Kara Meyer posted 14 saves while suffering the loss.
Middlebury continued its mastery over Gustavus picking up its sixth win against the Gusties with no defeats. The Panthers had beaten Gustavus 4-3 in overtime earlier this season in River Falls, Wisconsin.