Gustavus women’s hockey will face Bethel University in the MIAC playoffs at Don Roberts Ice Rink this Saturday, March 1 at 2:00 p.m. After falling 1-0 to Bethel last weekend on Saturday, the Gusties are seeded number two in the league, behind St. Thomas. This is the first time in ten years the Gusties have not won the conference title, but the team hopes that they will be able to redeem themselves with a MIAC Playoff Champions title. The team’s regular season record sits at 16-7-2 overall, and 14-4-0 in the MIAC.
The team started out the season with a strong MIAC win against Saint Mary’s and continued to win a series of MIAC games. The team split their series with UW-Superior, UW-River Falls and UW-Stevens Point, all of which are non-conference schools. The Gusties lost their first conference games to the College of Saint Benedict on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Rebounding from these two losses, the team was able to sweep Saint Catherine University the next weekend and split their series with this year’s MIAC conference champions, St. Thomas the weekend of Feb. 14.
As a young team, the Gusties have had to adapt quickly in order to be successful on the ice. The roster has a total of twenty-five players—twelve of which are first-years. Captains Carolyn Draayer and Courtney Boucher believe that, although the team’s inexperience of playing at the collegiate level was a challenge at first, the team has been able to adjust.
“We have a large number of underclassmen that we had to integrate into the team fairly quickly, and I think that our upperclassmen group has done pretty well with that,” Boucher said.
Draayer agrees with Boucher, but also gives credit to the first-years for stepping up.
“I think the freshmen have done pretty well too. It’s kind of a big learning curve coming in and figuring out the differences between high school and college hockey, but they’ve figured it out and it’s definitely coming along,” Draayer said.
The team has suffered more losses than they did in the 2012-2013 season, however their strong bond has kept them focused on playing their best hockey possible.
“I think one of our team’s strengths is our chemistry. We always like to say that you’re playing for your twenty-five best friends,” Draayer said.
Last season’s team finished 27-2-1, setting a record for the most wins ever in a season. Coming off of that, the players recognize the strong reputation of Gustavus hockey and are hoping to keep the tradition alive by playing their best hockey against Bethel this weekend. Coach Mike Carroll recognizes that each year brings a new team which will have it’s own challenges and successes.
“Each season takes on its own identity. We haven’t had as much success, wins and losses this year in comparison to the last couple of years. Hopefully some of the lessons we’ve learned as the season has gone on, with the peaks and valleys, can help us get it done when it counts the most,” Carroll said.
In order to make another appearance in the Final Four, the Gusties will have to win the MIAC playoffs. The team’s regular season record suggests that this task may prove more difficult than in past years However, Carroll said that returners who have experienced multiple fourth place finishes in the Final Four are still eager to perform well in the playoffs.
“Some of our previous players would maybe think that we didn’t play our best in the Final Four. We got there and had the chance to win the National Championship and we haven’t done that; so I think there are some players that are hungry for that, but it’s going to be a tougher road this year,” Carroll said.
The Gustie women have their sights set on the MIAC Playoff Championship title, and are working to advance to the Final Four and win the National Championship.