After sweeping Bethel in two straight shutout performances, the No. 4 ranked Gustavus Women’s Hockey team advanced to the MIAC Playoffs as the top seed.
Their last series of the regular season featured a matchup with Bethel that held important implications for playoff seeding.
In the first game, the Gusties got onto the board just 7:23 into the game. The Gusties played solid defense early in the game until Sophomore Tina Press beat the Royals’ goalkeeper off an assist from fellow Sophomore Grace Schulte.
The Gusties added another goal with less than two minutes to play in the opening period as First-year Hailey Holland scored while First-year Molly McHugh was credited with the assist.
With the 2-0 lead, the Gusties played solidly through the second period until Holland scored her second goal of the game with four minutes to play in the second. Holland’s team-leading 14th goal of the season once again came off an assist from McHugh.
The final goal of the game came roughly five minutes into the third period as First-year Lindsey Bjerke scored with assists going to Sophomores Jordyn Peterson and Jamie Byrne.
With a final score of 3-0, Sophomore goalie Emilia Helms-Leslie earned the shutout win for the Gusties with 16 saves.
“I was pleased with a lot of things tonight but one thing in particular was the way we responded to Bethel applying a lot of pressure early in the game. Uncharacteristically, we didn’t get into their end of the ice too much, but Tina had a nice goal and we got another one to take a two-goal lead into the second. Then we played really well in the second and third in all phases of the game,” Head Coach Mike Carroll said.
For the second game of the series, the Gusties returned home to the Don Roberts Ice Arena to secure the regular season MIAC Championship in front of their home crowd.
McHugh and Press proved to be too much for the Royals, as McHugh netted a hat trick and Press assisted on all three goals. McHugh scored early in each period, with the first goal coming 7:21 into the first period. The second came 47 seconds into the second period, and the third came 3:47 into the final period of play, with assists from both Press and Holland.
Between each of the goals, First-year Katie McCoy played well in net for the Gusties, stopping all 13 shots from the Royals.
“Today you saw a relentless forecheck at times and that’s really getting to be our bread and butter. We’ve been working really hard in the defensive zone and the teams are going to be better and better moving forward. I think we are still creating our identity. We’ll come Monday, work hard and take it day by day,” Carroll said.
With their win, the Gusties finished the regular season 20-3-2 overall and earned the top seed and a bye in the first round of the MIAC Playoffs.
With their bye, they earned a chance to host St. Mary’s in the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs.
The Gusties took an early lead once again, as Holland netted her first goal of the game 7:30 into the opening period off an assist from Press.
The Black and Gold carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but the Cardinals responded less than a minute into the second period to tie the game at one.
With their goal, St. Mary’s stole the momentum for the first half of the second period. The Gusties were able to respond 12 minutes later, however, as Sophomore Kayla Vrieze scored with assists from Senior Captains Kristen Cash and Amelia Vosen.
Gustavus carried a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
“We had a heart to heart talk between the second and third about hitting the reset button flipping the switch, come out and play hard. It was a good response by our team and I loved the way we played in the third period,” Carroll said.
Holland answered the call 2:40 into the third with her second goal of the game, while McHugh and Press were credited with assists.
Holland then put the game out of reach for the Cardinals and completed her hat trick two minutes later off an assist from Schulte.
The two teams skated to a 4-1 decision that booked the Gusties a trip to the MIAC Championship game.
They will host Augsburg on Saturday, March 7 at the Don Roberts Ice Arena.
“They have good defense, good forwards, and their goaltender is playing well. We swept them early but it was difficult. A couple hard games and they were a different team then, but so were we. We are confident and ready for the challenge because they are going to give us everything they got. Hopefully we’ll make a good response,” Carroll said.