ADRIAN, Mich. – For the third time in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Women’s Hockey era, the Gustavus women’s hockey team finished its season with a win, taking third place at the 2017 NCAA Championship. The Gusties defeated Norwich University 3-1 Saturday at Arrington Ice Arena on the campus of Adrian College, claiming third place for the first time since 2005, while finishing the season with a 19-7-3 overall record.
“Our plan was to try and get up with the first goal and get us some momentum because we knew we were a little gassed from last night,” Head Coach Mike Carroll said. “I don’t think we played quite that well in the first period, but we really played awesome in the second and the third. We matched the intensity of last night in the second and third, and the girls really bounced back. It was fun to watch.”
After a scoreless first period that saw Norwich lead 7-5 in shots, the Gusties struck first with a goal at the 2:45 mark in the second period. Erica Power (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.) scored her ninth goal of the season, assisted by Kristen Cash (Fy., Roseville, Minn.) and Emily Gustafson (Sr., Esko, Minn.). The Cadets lit the lamp on a power play goal with 1:54 remaining in the second, but the Gusties had an immediate answer 10 seconds later as Diana Draayer (Jr., Deephaven, Minn.) found the back of the net for her seventh score of the season, assisted by Gustafson and Laura Johnson (Jr., Chanhassen, Minn.). Gustavus held a 2-1 lead at the second intermission with a 21-14 advantage in shots on goal.
Midway through the third period, the Gusties were whistled for back-to-back penalties, creating a 3-on-4 disadvantage. But Norwich committed a turnover at neutral ice and Power took advantage with a breakaway short-handed goal with 11:38 remaining in the game. Laine Fischer (So., Northfield, Minn.) was credited with the assist and the Gusties were able to hold on for the season-ending victory.
Amanda DiNella (So., Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.) finished with 22 saves against 23 shots. The Gusties outshot the Cadets 38-23, including a 17-9 difference in the third period. Gustavus went 1-for-6 on the power play, while Norwich was 1-for-4. The Black and Gold also won the battle on the dots, winning 35-of-58 faceoffs.
In its 12th appearance at the NCAA Championships, Gustavus claimed its third third-place finish, joining the 2002 and 2005 teams. The third place finish is the best in program history at the NCAA Championships. When reflecting on the season, Coach Carroll said last season’s lackluster outcome set the table for this season’s success, while the program’s historic success motivated the 2016-17 team.
“A year ago last Thanksgiving we went out to Middlebury and played good competition and we had some things happen injury-wise that you just don’t bounce back from in a day or two,” Carroll said. “And then when we got back into conference play last year, we just didn’t have the compete and drive that our team has had and shown in the past. It was sort of a gut-check offseason and looking back one of the highlights was our alumni game, which was our first competition of the season. We had alums come down and talk to the girls in a little roundtable session in the cafeteria. I don’t know if it sunk in that day as much, but I could see month-by-month that little things that came up that it was working. The tradition of our program is something that I think our girls respect now and I think that’s really helped propel us this year.”