MIAC Champs!

Parker Burman-

This past weekend, the Gustavus Women’s hockey team hosted conference rival No. 14 Saint Mary’s at Don Roberts Arena, with the MIAC Title on the line. For the fourth straight season, the Gusties reigned supreme as Playoff Champions of the MIAC, just the second team in conference history to win four straight. In a hard-fought defensive game, the Gusties fought in all three zones to secure the 2-0 title win.

Gustavus started off the game strong, finding themselves consistently in the Saint Mary zone for the first five minutes of the game. Seven minutes into the contest, Sophomore Lily Mortenson won the offensive zone face-off, getting the puck to Sophomore Margot Bettman who fired a shot on the SMU net. First-year utility player Macy Janssen scooped up the puck off the rebound and fired another shot on the SMU net, a shot that would have gone wide. However, with a little bit of puck luck, the shot was redirected off of the SMU defender into the net to give the Gusties an early 1-0 lead.

“I honestly didn’t know it was going to go in, I just shot it and hoped for a rebound for one of my teammates. After I saw my teammates celebrating I was like that’s awesome,” Janssen said.

“Shoot the puck was a big refrain going into the weekend. We knew that their goalie was likely to give up some rebounds so as soon as Lily won the faceoff, my first thought was to try to put the puck on the net. Fortunately, she gave up a big rebound and Macy was able to put it in the back of the net. The early lead definitely gave everyone a sense of confidence,” Bettman said.

In the second period, Saint Mary’s turned up the heat on Gustavus as they managed to get 12 shots on the net against Gustavus’s Fifth-year goalie Katie McCoy, who saved every shot. The Gusties as a team were eating shots left and right, clearing as many pucks as they could to get sticks on out in front of McCoy. This combined defensive effort between the pipes and as a team allowed Gustavus to maintain the 1-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

“The defense had a great game and made my job really easy. They kept St. Mary’s to the outside which forced them to take off angle shots. They also did a great job of getting the puck out of the zone which helped us not get stuck in our d zone for too long and transition to offense quickly,” McCoy said.

The packed crowd of Gustavus fans at Don Roberts Arena fueled both the Gustie offense and defense throughout the game. “I love playing in a packed house. I try to take in the environment of everyone being there. I know as a team we love everyone who comes to the games and it motivates us to win seeing everyone support us,” Mortenson said.

After Fifth-year Hailey Holland called game in the semi-final match-up against Bethel in overtime, younger sister and Junior Kaitlyn Holland put the Gusties up by two goals early in the third. This goal would put the game fully out of reach for Saint Mary’s even with a late push to close the deficit. With 2:01 left on the clock, SMU emptied their net while on the power play for the 6-on-4 advantage. Yet the two extra skaters were no match for the Gusties, as Hailey Holland and Senior Sophia Coltvet both ate a puck combined with a save from McCoy would end the game.

“By getting the shoutout we didn’t allow them to gain any momentum. It also gave the team confidence to play more aggressively which played a major role in the win,” McCoy said.

“Good defense and working as a team throughout all three zones, I think was really important. Getting shots on net and throwing them there can sometimes be in your favor,” Janssen said.

The MIAC Playoff title was the 15th for Gustavus in program history and their 17th punched ticket to the NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament. Gustavus will next play No.1 ranked UW-River Falls on Saturday, March 9th, at 2:00 p.m.

“We are feeling pretty confident after the win on Saturday but know that it is going to be a good challenge. As long as we trust ourselves and each other we can beat them,” McCoy said.

“Going into the tournament we are all anticipating a big game. There is lots of excited energy at practice. After falling to River Falls in the regular season we are eager to win when it really matters,” Bettman said.

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