The Gustavus women’s hockey team earned its fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Championship with a hard-fought 3-2 win over St. Thomas in the MIAC Playoff Championship game which was played Saturday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Andrea Peterson scored the game-winning goal at the 5:00 minute mark of the second period with assists from Molly Doyle and Margaret Dorer. The Gusties will host UW-Stevens Point in a first round NCAA Tournament game next Saturday. Game time will be announced on Monday.
The Gusties jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the game on a goal by Kelly Crandall at the 6:03 mark. Andrea Peterson was credited with the assist. The Tommies wasted no time tying the score as Jackie Carroll intercepted a Gustavus pass off of the face-off and raced in and scored on a breakaway at the 6:12 mark. The scoring onslaught continued as the Gusties reclaimed the lead at 2-1 when Claire Opsahl threw the puck into the crease from a very extreme angle (the bottom of the face-off circle) which slid past a shielded Lauren Bradel, the St. Thomas netminder. The Tommies capped the scoring in a wild first period on a power play goal by Maggie Toft with just over a minute (18:57) left on the clock. Jackie Carroll and Jill Kobow were credited with assists. Gustavus outshot the Tommies 13-4 in the first period, but St. Thomas scored on two of its four shots.
Early in the second period, Andrea Peterson scored what turned out to be the game-winner at the 5:00 minute mark while the Gusties were on a power play. Peterson, the 2007 MIAC Player of the Year, has now scored the game-winning goal in the MIAC Championship game for three consecutive years. Gustavus would control play for the majority of the second period outshooting the Tommies 16-4, but Gustie netminder Breanna Scavo still had to come up with two big saves to allow Gustavus to take its 3-2 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes of play.
The third period was played at a very high level in front of a boisterous group of about 500 fans. The final score was in doubt until the very end, however, St. Thomas was hindered in the final several minutes by two critical penalties, one at 17:41, and another at 19:09, that left them shorthanded. In the end, the Gusties were able to hold on and claim the 3-2 victory and improve to 25-2-0 on the season, while St. Thomas finishes at 15-12-0. Gustavus outshot the Tommies 9-2 in the third period and 38-10 in the game.
Gustavus has now beaten St. Thomas by one goal in three consecutive MIAC Championship games including a 3-2 overtime win in 2005, and a 2-1 overtime win in 2006. The Gusties, who have compiled a MIAC Playoff record of 14-4-2 since the MIAC Playoff format began eight years ago, have now won five MIAC Playoff titles (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007).
Andrea Peterson, who scored one goal and recorded one assist in the game, moved into a second place tie with Emily Quizon of Middlebury on the Division III Women’s all-time assist list with 107.
You will be able to see the seven teams selected to participate in the 2007 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship tonight on the NCAA website at approximately 10:00 pm (CST).