The Gustavus women’s hockey team has been selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament and the Gusties will host the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in a quarterfinal game on Saturday, March 13 at 2:00 pm at Don Roberts Ice Rink. This is the ninth consecutive year that Gustavus has been selected to participate in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the Gustavus/UW-River Falls game will get the privilege of hosting the NCAA Championship Semifinals and Finals, which will take place the following weekend, March 19-20. Tickets for Saturday’s game, which are $6 for adults and $3 for students, will be sold the day of the game only, beginning one hour prior to the start of the contest.
The Gusties, who won both the regular season and playoff titles in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC), earned an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament by defeating St. Catherine 5-1 in the MIAC Playoff Championship game last Saturday at Don Roberts Ice Rink. Coach Mike Carroll’s squad has been on quite a roll of late having won 12 consecutive games and out-scoring its opponents 53-13 during that stretch. Offensively, balance has been the key for the Gusties with six different players scoring 20 points or more this season. Senior Melissa Mackley leads the way with 13 goals and 16 assists for 29 points. Mackley became just the ninth player to compile 100 career points when she picked up three points (2 goals and 1 assist) last Thursday against St. Olaf. Sophomore Allie Schwab is next with 28 points (15g, 13a), followed by Lindsey Hjelm (11g, 13a) and Kirstin Peterson (6 g, 18 a) with 24 points, Meagan Wanecke (qqg, 10a) with 21, and Tam Meuwissen (8g, 12a) with 20 points. Defensively, Gustavus has been led all season by the sophomore goaltending tandem of Danielle Justice and Emily Klatt. Justice is 15-2-0 with a 0.90 goals against average and six shutouts, while Klatt is 5-2-2 with a 1.73 goals against average.
The Falcons are riding an 18-game unbeaten streak heading into Saturday’s matchup. The team’s last loss was the 2-1 game at Gustavus. The Falcons are 13-0-5 during the streak and have won six straight games, including a 4-1 win over Adrian in the NCHA semifinals and a 2-1 win over UW-Superior in the NCHA finals last weekend at Lake Forest. The 20 wins ties a school record set by the 2003 and 2009 teams. Jamie Briski leads the Falcons in scoring. She has a team-best 16 goals and 24 points. She leads the Falcons with seven power-play goals and five game winners. She scored both goals in the team’s win over UWS on Saturday. Melissa Deardorff and Cassi Campbell have shared goaltending duties for most of the season. Deardorff is 10-1-4 with a 1.32 goals against average and a .935 saves percentage. She has recorded two shutouts. Campbell is 9-2-2 with a 2.00 goals against average and a .928 saves percentage. She has one shutout.
The two teams met earlier this season and the result was a 3-3 tie in River Falls on Nov. 13 and a 2-1 Gustavus win in St. Peter on Jan. 12. This will be 17th time that Gustavus and UW-River Falls have played in women’s hockey and the Gusties have compiled a mark of 10-3-3 in the previous 16 meetings. The two squads met in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament last year with the Falcons claiming a 2-1 win in St. Peter.
In other NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal games, Trinity plays at Elmira, while Norwich travels to Plattsburgh. The winner of the Gustavus/UW-River Falls game will play defending national champion Amherst in one NCAA Semifinal game, while the winner of the Plattsburgh/Norwich game will face the winner of the Trinity/Elmira game in the other NCAA Semifinal contest.