Gustavus and River Falls Set to Meet in NCAA Quarterfinal Posted on March 8th, 2023 by

SAINT PETER, Minn. — Following their MIAC Championship victory, the Gustavus women’s hockey team (24-3) is set to host UW-River Falls (24-3-1) in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Championships at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Gusties and Falcons both earned a bye to the second round of the tournament, with the game to be hosted at Don Roberts Ice Rink at 2 p.m. CST. Tournament play begins Wednesday night, with six teams competing for a chance at the quarterfinal, with the winners facing Amherst, Adrian, or SUNY-Plattsburgh on Saturday. Those victorious in round two will head to the Frozen Four, to be hosted by the highest remaining seed of the four teams.



The Gusties are set to make their third-straight NCAA tournament appearance and 16th overall (2002, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 2010, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 20, 22). In NCAA tournament games, the Gusties hold an all-time record of 13-20.

Last season, after earning the conference’s automatic qualifier to the national tournament, the Gusties defeated UW-Eau Claire 3-0 in the first round, River Falls 5-3 in the second, heading to Middlebury for the Frozen Four. The Gusties defeated Plattsburgh by a score of 5-1 to punch a ticket to the title game, where they fell by an eventual 3-2 score to Middlebury in an improbable overtime thriller. Last year’s runner-up team made history for Gustavus, making the farthest post-season run in program history.


In seven of the Gusties’ 15 previous NCAA appearances, Gustavus and River Falls have met in the tournament, with six games played in the quarterfinal and one matchup in the first round. The Gusties hold a winning record of 5-2 against the Falcons in NCAA Tournament play.

Saturday’s game will mark the fourth meeting between the two programs just this season, with River Falls holding the winning record of 1-2. Each team won on the road in a 2-game weekend series, with the Gusties shutting out the Falcons 2-0 and River Falls returning the favor the next day, defeating the Gusties 3-0. In their final meeting of the regular season, the teams skated to a 1-1 tie, heading to overtime for the final decision. River Falls’ Abigail Stow sealed the deal for the Falcons, scoring with 5.5 seconds remaining in overtime to send the Gusties home with one of their three losses of the season.

Gustavus enters the game on a win streak of eight, ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest coaches poll and holding a No. 3 spot in the NCAA Pairwise rankings. Meanwhile, the Falcons sit No. 4 in the nation according to the USCHO and No. 6 in Pairwise, on their own winning streak of three. The Falcons earned one of four NCAA at-large bids to the tournament, as WIAC women’s hockey does not earn an automatic qualifier with only five teams in the conference. The appearance in the tournament is the Falcons’ 14th and fourth in a row. Their best NCAA run came in the 2015-16 season, finishing second overall.


The Gusties combined for nine goals in their two post-season performances against Hamline and Augsburg, led by Tina Press (Sr., Cottage Grove) who scored a pair of goals in each. Brooke Power (Jr., Lakeville) added two goals between the two games, while Hailey Holland (Sr., Aberdeen, S.D.) had herself a three-point outing on a goal and two helpers. The MIAC announced its post-season awards Tuesday afternoon, and the Gusties, who were a dominant force in the conference after losing only one game, set a record for number of All-Conference players from a single team with eight selections. Hailey Holland and Kayla Vrieze (Sr., Eagan) won two of the conference’s major awards, taking home both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. The elder Holland sister led the MIAC in points this season, scoring 33 on 18 goals and 15 assists. Her defensive counterpart Vrieze managed a plus-minus rating of +22 over all 27 of the Gusties’ games and led the team in power play scoring, scoring 14 of her 16 points with the player advantage. Thanks to the senior’s efforts, the Gusties have posted the NCAA’s best scoring defense numbers, holding opponents to 0.81 goals against and just 22 goals all season — the best mark in the NCAA.

Other notables on the list included Power, who ended MIAC play with 17 goals and nine assists, leading the league in game-winners with six total, and sharing the lead in power play goals at six. Press picked up the third All-Conference nod of her career, scoring 25 points so far, including 22 in the second half of the season. Junior transfer Brooke Remington (Scandia) earned her first conference honors in her first year in the MIAC, tallying 14 points from the blue line and earning a +28 rating in all 27 games played. Between the pipes, Katie McCoy (Sr., Grafton, Wis.) has proved herself to be one of the NCAA’s best goaltenders, boasting a save percentage of .942 and a goals-against-average of just 0.84 to lead the MIAC. McCoy posted nine individual shutouts and combined for 13 team shutouts — the second best mark in NCAA DIII this season.


The Falcons, having an equally impressive season, have been led by the offensive efforts of Maddie McCollins. The senior, Maple Grove native leads the team in points with 48 on 28 goals and 20 assists. McCollins sits second in WIAC scoring, only one point behind UW-Eau Claire’s Sophie Rausch. Alex Hantge is the WIAC’s resident playmaker, notching 29 assists on the season to lead the conference and her team. Hantge also boasts 13 goals for a total of 42 points. Thanks to Hantge’s efforts, the Falcons lead NCAA DIII in assists this year, with 273 on the season. The Falcons also boast the most goals with 159, and the best power play percentage at 34.8%. The team’s 31 power play goals are third to only Adrian (34) and Gustavus (37). Between the pipes, Sami Miller has been the Falcons’ go-to netminder, starting in 19 of 20 games played in. Miller owns a goals-against-average of 1.50 and a save percentage of .917. Her win percentage of .912 is best in NCAA DIII this year, just .027 better than McCoy.

As a team, the Falcons have had a number of impressive victories, owning a record of 6-2-1 against top-10 nationally-ranked teams this season. The Falcons have seen three of 11 NCAA contenders already this year, defeating Plattsburgh 3-2 and Middlebury 3-2 in overtime to claim the Cardinal/Panther Cup earlier in the season. The Falcons have lost only one game on the road this season, a 7-4 decision at nationally-ranked UW-Eau Claire, while their other two losses and one tie have come at home.


Tina Press and Hailey Holland became the 13th and 14th players in Gustavus women’s hockey history to eclipse 100 career points, and currently sit amongst the top-15 in the record books for their totals. Press now sits eighth in all-time scoring with 118 points, only four points away from moving up a spot into seventh. Press would need 67 points to catch now Assistant Coach Andrea Peterson, who leads all Gusties with 185 career points, but can crack the top-5 with 13 more. Meanwhile, Holland sits 12th all-time with 108, needing only five more points to sit directly behind press in ninth. Katie McCoy is two shutouts away from being the NCAA’s active career leader, a title she would share with Eau Claire’s Stephanie Martin, and needs three more to own the record outright. The Gusties are three wins away from tying the program record of 27 wins in a season set in 2012-13, and are three shutouts away from tying the record set last year of 16.


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