The Gustavus women’s hockey team defeated the University of Wisconsin-River Falls 4-1 in the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Quarterfinal on Friday, March 11, in River Falls, Wis. Jenna Christensen led the Gusties, scoring two goals and picking up two assists on the night.
Gustavus and UW-River Falls met on December 10 in River Falls, a game that UW-River Falls won 4-2. “They took it to us in all phases of the game. They played like a veteran team and we played like a team trying to find our own identity,” Coach Mike Carroll said. With tonight’s win, Gustavus avenged the early season loss and will move on to play Norwich University on Friday, March 18 in the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Semifinals. “Hats off to our girls. We’ve been improving a lot lately and we had a lot of confidence today,” Carroll added.
In the first period, both teams combined for only a few shots through the opening ten minutes of play, as the action moved back and forth down the ice. The teams went scoreless until the 13:18 mark, when the Gusties were able to set up a two-on-one opportunity on the break out. Lisa Tuuri joined Jenna Christensen, who skated into the zone before snapping a shot from the circle that went off the far pipe and into the goal to give Gustavus a 1-0 lead. Gustavus kept the pressure on through the remainder of the first, an effort that paid off when Meagan Wanecke knocked in a rebound goal at the 18:15 mark to put the Gusties up 2-0 heading into the first intermission. Gustavus outshot UW-River Falls 8-1 in the period.
In the second, the Gusties continued to press, peppering Falcon goaltender Ashley Kuechle with nine shots in the frame. After the Falcons were whistled for too many players on the ice at the 11:57 mark, Christensen put the Gusties up 3-0 when she scored her second goal of the night at the 12:18 mark. Lindsey Hjelm would widen the margin at 17:15, taking advantage of a Katie Flanagan penalty by cutting loose a slap shot from the top of the circle that glanced off Kuechle’s helmet and into the top of the net to put the Gusties up 4-0.
In the third period, Danielle Justice came up big for Gustavus, turning away 17 of the 18 shots she faced, a stretch that included several sprawling saves. “In the third period we had some struggles defensively, but Justice stood on her head,” Carroll said. UW-River Falls scored their first goal of the night at the 12:30 mark, as Brook Story found the net to cut the Gustavus lead to three (4-1). From there, it looked like the Falcons would have a late chance, as Mollie Carroll was sent to the box for tripping at the 17:35 mark. UW-River Falls took two penalties in the waning moments of the game, allowing Gustavus to run out the clock with a two-skater advantage.
Gustavus got production from the depth of its roster, as eight players registered points on the night and Justice came away with the 24-save win. “Our whole team is contributing, and that’s what you need at this time of year.” Carroll said.
The Gusties will continue their playoff run on Friday, March 18, when they play Norwich University in the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Semifinal Game in Rochester, New York.