By Ray Biggs
D3hockey.com Managing Editor
Mendota Heights, MN – At this time last season, the Hamline Pipers went further than any other Piper women’s hockey team before it. One year later, they produced an even better encore performance on the big stage. The Pipers will play for the national title for the first time ever tomorrow as they punched their ticket to the title game with a 3-0 win over MIAC rival and tournament host the University of St. Thomas in an NCAA semifinal game on Friday night.
|Hamline had plenty to celebrate on Friday night? Photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com.|
The Pipers post a school-record 24th victory of the season with the win on Friday while advancing to their first national title game appearance. The national championship game berth is the first for Hamline in any sport since a 1953 NAIA championship game loss in basketball. Hamline will meet six-time champion Plattsburgh State in a game that will start at 8 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. The two teams already have a bit of history after the Pipers shocked the Cardinals in last year’s third place game at Norwich University.
St. Thomas will meet Adrian in the third place game on Saturday with a 6 p.m. Eastern start time.
The teams were a combined 1-for-5 in terms of special teams for the evening, and the Pipers out-shot the Tommies 32-25.
Madison Kolbow was the lone player with a multi-point effort in the team’s prospective playoff matchup ass she had a goal and an assist. Bre Simon and Becca Zarembinski also added goals for the Pipers, and Jaela O’Brien won for a tenth time in eleven starts with her third shutout of the season.
The Tommies had won two of three meetings this season, including the MIAC Championship game. However, they were also unexpectedly without one of the most critical components to their success on Friday night. UST senior goaltender Kenzy Torpy was named an All-American earlier this week after crushing the competition all season long, but an injury in practice on Thursday held her out of semifinal action.
That left the chores to Eryn Cooley, and the Pipers took full advantage early of the changing of the guard in goal 1:35 into the matchup, former Tommie forward Becca Zarembinski got the scoring started, assisted by Kolbow. The lead doubled 50 seconds later when Bre Simon scored her 27th of the season with Leah Schwartzman assisting. Kolbow added an additional layer of insurance with her second period power play strike to build a lead that would hold until the final horn as the Pipers’ quick strike offense, and silencing defense prevailed.
The Pipers are 23-3-3 this season, and St. Thomas is now 25-2-2.