The Gustavus women’s hockey team took one step closer to its goal of winning its fifth straight MIAC Playoff Championship by defeating St. Olaf 5-0 in a MIAC Playoff Semifinal game on Saturday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink in St. Peter. The Gusties, who posted their sixth consecutive shutout, have not allowed a goal in 382 minutes and 40 seconds dating back to the third period of the St. Kate’s game on Feb. 7. Mari Gunderson and Allie Schwab both scored twice to lead the Gusties.
Gustavus dominated play from start to finish out-shooting St. Olaf 52-10 in the game including 13-1 in the first period, 21-1 in the second period, and 18-8 in the third period. The Gusties led 2-0 after the first period and 3-0 through two periods before claiming the 5-0 victory. Gustavus goaltender Danielle Justice came up big when she had to in the game as she stopped two breakaways as well as several good chances when the Oles had a 5-on-3 advantage for nearly two minutes in the third period. Justice, who recorded her fifth shutout of the season, made 10 saves. She improved her record to 10-1-4 on the season.
The Gusties got on the scoreboard with two goals within :30 seconds of each other at the end of the first period. Mari Gunderson got the first goal at 18:32, when Jessie Doig intercepted a pass and dished off a pretty pass to Gunderson who was all alone 15 feet in front of the net. Gunderson lifted a wrist shot into the upper right hand corner of the net. Thirty seconds later, Allie Schwab intercepted a pass in the St. Olaf zone and wristed a beautiful shot from the left side at a sharp angle that went over the glove of the St. Olaf goaltender and into the upper corner of the net.
Schwab scored her second goal of the game and gave the Gusties a 3-0 lead with another unassisted goal at the 17:30 mark of the second period.
Gustavus closed the door on the Oles with two power play goals in the first three minutes of the third period. Kirsten Peterson netted the first just :13 seconds into the final frame with an assist from Mollie Carroll. Gunderson extended the score to 5-0 with her second goal of the game at the 3:09 mark. Doig and Peterson were credited with assists.
The Oles did put some pressure on the Gusties five minutes into the final period when Nara Higano was sent to the box for hooking and shortly after Jenny Pusch was whistled for checking giving the Oles nearly two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage. St. Olaf fired three quality shots on Justice during that period and she responded with three big saves to shut down the Ole threat.
Gustavus, which is the #1 seed in the MIAC Post-Season Tournament, will now host St. Thomas in the MIAC Playoff Championship on Wednesday, March 4 at 4 pm. The winner will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.