St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s hockey team advanced to the MIAC Playoff Championship following a 3-2 win over Bethel in an MIAC Semifinal match up on Saturday afternoon at Don Roberts Ice Rink. After falling behind 2-1 early in the third period, the Gusties came back to score a pair of unanswered goals in the final 13 minutes of the win.
With the win, Gustavus improves to 17-7-2 on the season and advances to the MIAC Playoff Championship. The Gusties will travel to Mendota Heights, Minn., to take on top-seeded St. Thomas next Saturday afternoon at the St. Thomas Ice Arena. Meanwhile, Bethel finishes its season with a 17-7-2 record.
After the two teams went back-and-forth through the first 15 minutes of play, the Gusties got on the scoreboard first with a goal at the 15:50 mark of the opening period. Lydia Wagner (Fy., Zumbrota, Minn.) fired a slap shot from the right point. The shot did not leave the ice, but still found its way through heavy traffic in front of the net and past Bethel goaltender Erika Allen to give Gustavus the early 1-0 lead.
The Gusties held the lead for the next four minutes and seemed to be headed for the first intermission with the 1-0 advantage, but a Bethel goal in the final minute of the period tied the score 1-1 at the first break. Lindsay Burman won a face off in the Gustavus zone and pushed the puck toward the net. The puck deflected off of Kathryn Larson and finally Caroline Kivisto before ending up in the back of the net.
After an exciting final five minutes of the first period, the two teams played to a scoreless tie in the second period. Although the stretch again featured a number of scoring chances for both teams, including a breakaway chance for Bethel’s Kathryn Larson that was turned away by Gustavus goalie Amanda Koep (So., St. Michael, Minn.), the two teams went to the second intermission still tied.
The Royals wasted little time taking the lead early in the third period. Cristina Masten raced the puck up the left side, made one move to get past a Gustavus defender, ducked in front of net, and finished glove-side to put her team in front just 1:03 into the final frame.
Four and a half minutes later, it looked as though the Royals had all of the momentum on their side when Emily Reibert (So., Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) was sent to the penalty box, giving Bethel the power play. However, rather than retreat to the defensive end, the Gusties used the skater disadvantage as an opportunity for some offense of their own.
Gustavus recorded a pair of shots on the penalty kill, the last of which resulted in a shorthanded goal. With the puck loose along the boards, Marissa Brandt (Jr., Vadnais Heights, Minn.) chipped it off the glass where a speedy Carolyn Draayer (Jr., Deephaven, Minn.) chased it down. Draayer controlled the puck and fired from the point. The shot bounced off the ice and past the glove of Allen into the back of the net to tie the game at two goals apiece.
“Marissa did a great job of chipping it hard off the boards,” described Draayer of the goal. “I figured I would go after it because I thought I could win the race. I just tried to get a shot on net and was fortunate it went in. It felt great to score and tie the game up.”
Just three minutes later, Melissa Doyle (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) delivered the go-ahead goal, which would prove to be the game-winner in the victory. Halie Gudmonson (Fy., Albertville, Minn.) began the play by firing a shot from the high slot and chasing down her own rebound. She left it off for Emily Reibert in the corner, who immediately found a wide-open Doyle in the circle. Doyle put it away in the upper right hand corner to give the Gusties the 3-2 lead.
The Royals would not go quietly, however. Faced with the deficit in the final minute of the game, Lindsay Burman nearly tied the game when she raced past the Gustavus defense up the left side and fired a backhanded shot towards the net. The shot slipped past Koep and hit the opposite post but would not fall in, as the Gusties escaped disaster and held on for the win.
“The game had a lot of ups and downs,” said Draayer. “We lost Courtney Boucher, one of our defenders, to an injury early in the game, so we had to make some adjustments and play from there. The team had to be mentally tough and pull together to get the win.”
For the game, Gustavus outshot Bethel 26-to-18, thanks in large part to a 13-to-6 advantage in the third period. Each team was held scoreless on the power play in four chances. The Gusties recorded seven shots on those opportunities, compared to just two shots for the Royals.
In net, Amanda Koep was awarded the win after allowing two goals and making 16 saves for Gustavus. Erika Allen suffered the loss, giving up all three goals in a 23-save effort for the Royals.
Gustavus will next travel to Mendota Heights, Minn., to take on top-seeded St. Thomas in the MIAC Playoff Championship. That contest is set for a 2:00 p.m., opening face off at the St. Thomas Ice Arena.
“We need to do a lot of the same things we did this week,” mentioned Draayer of her team’s coming week of preparation. “We need to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and give it our all every day in practice.”