Women's Frozen Four Preview: St. Thomas v. Hamline

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Compiled by D3hockey.com staff --

Friday's second semifinal will feature a clash between MIAC rivals when No. 3 St. Thomas plays host to No. 6 Hamline.  Slated for a 7:00 p.m. CDT puck drop at St. Thomas, the match-up will be the latest in a long line of meetings between the Tommies and Pipers but just the first NCAA tournament meeting between the two.

This year's Frozen Four appearance marks the second overall for St. Thomas. The Tommies one prior apearance came in 2014 where they fell 1-0 to Plattsburgh State in the semifinals before dropping a 5-3 decision to UW-River Falls in the third-place game. St. Thomas is seeking its first national championship. Hamline is also looking for its first national title and is making its second overall and consecutive Frozen Four appearance. In last year's Frozen Four the Pipers lost 5-1 to Norwich in the semifinals before upending Plattsburgh 5-4 in overtime to score the third-place finish.

St. Thomas won its way into the tournament by winning the MIAC postseason championship over none other than Hamline thanks to a 2-0 league title game win, and then advanced to the Frozen Four with a tight 4-3 win over UW-Eau Claire in last weekend's quarterfinals.

MIAC champion Hamline remains sort of the new kid on the block, and while it came up short against St. Thomas in the MIAC, it's strong resume was enough to secure it an at-large bid to the tournament. The Pipers advanced to the Frozen Four with a convincing 5-1 win over UW-River Falls.

The Tommies and Pipers have met three times this season. St. Thomas scored a 3-2 win on February 15, Hamline answered back with a 3-2 win of its own the next afternoon, and then St. Thomas notched the win in the aforementioned MIAC title tilt.

 

   NO. 3  ST. THOMAS TOMMIES  (25-1-2)

ST. THOMAS TOMMIES


Record:
25-1-3 overall, 17-2-1 MIAC

Location: Saint Paul, Minn.

Enrollment: 6,212

Road to the NCAAs: Pool A automatic qualifier, MIAC Playoff Champion

NCAA Tournament History: 6th appearance; 2-6-0

Road to the Frozen Four: W 4-3 v. UW-Eau Claire

Scoring offense: 3.43 g/gm

Scoring defense: 0.93 g/gm

Power Play: 14.8%

Penalty Kill: 89.9%

Players to Watch:
F, so., Maddy Fieldler (5-26-31)
F, jr., Rachel Werdin (18-9-27)
F, so., Alyssa Wallace (10-15-25)
F, fr., Anna Solheim (12-9-21)
F, so., Shae McLean (5-14-19)
D, sr., Demi Cooper (6-10-16)
D, so., Kate Winiecki (5-6-11)
G, sr., Mackenzie Torpy (25-1-2, 0.92, .954)

 

HAMLINE PIPERS


Record:
22-3-3 overall, 14-3-2 MIAC

Location: Saint Paul, Minn.

Enrollment: 2,168

Road to the NCAAs: Pool C at-large selection

NCAA Tournament History: 2nd appearance; 3-1-0

Road to the Frozen Four: W 5-1 v. UW-River Falls

Scoring offense: 4.39 g/gm

Scoring defense: 1.50 g/gm

Power Play: 28.0%

Penalty Kill: 86.1%

Players to Watch:
F, jr., Bre Simon (26-37-63)
F, sr., Leah Schwartzman (19-27-46)
F, fr., Molly Garin (19-19-38)
F, so., Jordan Hansen (12-17-29)
D, jr., Dani Wright (7-15-22)
D, jr., Dani Perry (2-20-22)
G., fr., McKenna Hulsander (13-2-3, 1.68, .920)
 

It's hard to fathom but despite having just one loss on the year and entering the NCAA tournament as the top overall seed thanks to the Pairwise Rankings, St. Thomas has flown a bit under the radar for most of the season.

But what a season it has been as the Tommies have been nearly perfect.  After opening the season with 13 straight wins that included two wins over Lake Forest and one over UW-River Falls, they suffered their first "blemish" in a 2-2 tie at Gustavus Adolphus on January 12 and another followed by way of a 1-1 tie at Concordia-Moorhead on January 26.

From there it was six more wins in a row until they suffered their lone loss of the year, a hard-fought 3-2 setback in game two of a MIAC regular season series against Hamline.

Making their fourth-straight tournament appearance, the Tommies have finally returned to the Frozen Four and are seeking their first national title.

A significant portion of this year's success starts with the senior goaltender Mackenzie Torpy. The reigning MIAC Player of the Year, Torpy is on the verge of wrapping up a stellar career and might have saved the best for last.

She has made 102 career appearances, 28 of which have come this season, and as far as this year goes holds a 25-1-2 record, 0.92 goals-against-average and .954 save percentage. The save percentage is good for second-best in the nation while the GAA stands as third-best. Torpy stands as just one of three goaltenders in the country that has allowed less than a goal per game this season.

Additionally, Torpy has posted an astonishing 13 shutouts this season, which ties her with Plattsburgh's Kassi Abbott for most in the nation.

With Torpy as the anchor, the Tommies as a team have conceded a mere 0.93 goals per game this season which rates as the second-stingiest defense in the country.

Offensively, St. Thomas has been no slouch as its 3.43 goals per game ranks as the 11th-highest in the nation.

Six forwards dot the top of the scoresheet and none of them are seniors. Sophomore Maddy Fieldler has led the way with five goals and 26 assists for 31 points, while juniors Rachel Werdlin (18-9-27) and Allison Parnell (11-6-17) also rank among the team leaders -- as do sophomores Alyssa Wallace (10-15-25) and Shae McLean (5-14-19), along with freshman Anna Solheim (12-9-21).

Senior defensemen Demi Cooper (6-10-16) and sophomore blueliner Kate Winiecki (5-6-11) have also been solid contributors on the offensive end of the ice.

Overall, the Tommies have shown little by way of weakness this year and their reward for being the tournament's top seed is to a Frozen Four on their own ice. Will they be able to capitalize and bring the title home without ever having to leave home? They would surely like nothing more...

 

   NO. 6  HAMLINE PIPERS   (22-3-3)

Under fourth-year head coach Natalie Darwitz the Pipers have emerged as a prominent player on the national scene. Hamline's real coming out party came a year ago when it not only qualified for its first NCAA tournament but also won a quarterfinal game and then scored a third-place game win over Plattsburgh State.

The Pipers now return to the Frozen Four and this time have to travel all of about ten miles to face a familiar foe on familiar ice.

Like St. Thomas, Hamline has been superb from the get-go this year and have suffered just a single setback beyond its two losses to the Tommies, and that came by way of a 2-1 overtime loss to Gustavus Adolphus on November 17.

Led by a dynamic top line, one need look no further junior forward and 2019 Laura Hurd Award recipient Bre Simon, who has posted 26 goals and 37 assists for a resounding 63 points on the year. The goal total is tied for second in the nation while the 37 assists are tops in the land.

Along with Simon, senior Leah Schwartzman (19-27-46) and freshman Molly Garin (19-19-38) have been plenty prolific in their own right as Schwartzman is the nation's third-leading scorer while Garin is tied for 12th. Meanwhile, three others have scored more than 20 points and six more have cracked double digits, including a pair of defensemen in juniors Dani Wright (7-15-22) and Dani Perry (2-20-22).

The end result has been a scoring offense that has posted 4.39 goals per contest to rank fifth nationally, thanks in large part to a notable power play that ranks second in the nation and has converted on 28.0% of its chances this year.

The Pipers haven't been quite as stingy on the back end and rank 12th in the country with 1.50 goals allowed per game. Goaltender McKenna Huslander has garnered the majority of action this year and in 19 appearances holds a 13-2-3 record, 1.68 goals-against-average and .920 save percentage.

Overall, Hamline has proved that last season wasn't a fluke in the slightest and the Pipers know they not only belong on the national stage, but can win there -- thanks in large part to last year's 5-4 overtime in over Plattsburgh State in the third-place game.

With an offense as dangerous as any in the country and a defense and goaltending that are plenty capable, the Pipers remain a team on the rise, but can this be the year they manage to rise all the way to the top of the Division III world?




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No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.