Pipers Work Pays Off With Title Game Berth

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. 

Plattsburgh Gets Better Start, Pulls Away Late in Semifinal Win over Adrian

By Ray Biggs
D3hockey.com Managing Editor

Mendota Heights, MN - During the first two rounds of this NCAA tournament, the Plattsburgh State Cardinals got off to much slower starts than they would have liked. Kevin Houle’s charges required an 0-2 comeback and overtime to take out Endicott in the Opening Round. In the quarterfinals, the Cards were challenged again as Williams scored the first goal, and the teams were neck-and-neck well into the third period before Plattsburgh pulled away.

With a trip to the NCAA title game on the line on Friday, the Cardinals were not about to leave as much to chance. Plattsburgh jumped out to the early lead for the first time in this tournament on a goal by Courtney Moriarty, and the senior forward doubled the lead with a second goal. Adrian showed a glimmer of

Plattsburgh's Courtney Moriarty raises her stick in the air after scoring her second goal in the Cardinals' NCAA semifinal win over Adrian.
Photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

promise with a third period goal to make it 2-1, but the Cardinals pulled away with two third period goals as they advanced by a 4-1 score in an NCAA Division III semifinal game on Friday in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

Plattsburgh awaits the winner of St. Thomas and Hamline tomorrow in the national championship game at 7 p.m. Central as they pursue their seventh NCAA Division III national championship, and their fifth in the last six seasons. The Cards are now 28-2-0. Adrian is eliminated from NCAA title contention but will play in the third place game at 3 p.m. Central on Saturday. Adrian is now 23-5-2. The Bulldogs had the second longest win streak in the nation snapped at eleven games, while the Cardinals will tote the longest one of all going into the championship at 17 consecutive games.

Moriarty led the way with her two goals, while Annie Katonka continued her remarkable campaign with a goal and two assists to move up to 53 points on the season. Kassi Abbott stopped fourteen of fifteen Adrian shots and set a new Plattsburgh single season record during the game for minutes played with 1,968 for the season.

Freshman Jessica VonRuden continued her remarkable postseason with her ninth goal, and third NCAA postseason goal for the Bulldogs, but goaltender Denisa Jandova had her toughest outing to date in the semifinal loss as she was handed her first career loss after a 24-of-28 showing in the Adrian net.

Plattsburgh wasted no time putting their opposition to task in the opening period as they notched six of the game’s first seven shots and had an 8-2 advantage in the count for the period. Penalties provided a window of opportunity on special teams for both sides, as both teams recorded a penalty apiece, but it was what happened just moments after Plattsburgh’s first power play expired that defined the score in the opening frame. Moriarty notched her second goal of the NCAA tournament at 10:24 of the first period as a point shot was swept to the front of the net. Annie Katonka and Nicole Unsworth both got a touch on the puck to set the play in motion, and eventually the puck pinballed to Moriarty, who landed it behind Jandova for the 1-0 lead.

The Cardinals dictated puck possession and limited the Bulldogs to one solid opportunity in a nearly flawless period by the Easterners as the early advantage held up all the way to the buzzer.

The Cardinals continued their prowess in the second period, and it was Moriarty and Katonka teaming up again on the goal for Plattsburgh as the senior hammered in her nineteenth goal of the season, and what would go on to become her 23rd career game-winning goal.

Plattsburgh wins the draw during Friday's semifinal action against Adrian in Mendota Heights
Photo: Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

A largely quiet beginning for Abbott began to get busier late in the second period as Adrian displayed a renewed sense of urgency towards the latter half of the middle stanza. No save stood taller for the Plattsburgh netminder on the night than the one she made with Maggie Mitter and Jacqueline White bearing down on her with numbers, as she read a beautifully played puck across the slot between the veteran forwards and went post-to-post to deny the opportunity and maintain the two goal advantage going into the third.

Just as she was the hero in Adrian’s win over Elmira, Von Ruden certainly provided Adrian with a spark when they needed one in the third period. The Bulldogs continued their run of intense play from late into the second period into the third, with Von Ruden making an excellent effort for the Adrian goal. The rookie entered down the left wing side and lost the puck on edge as she began to turn towards the net, the puck slid behind defender Hannah Kiraly, and Von Ruden stepped around the All-American and got back to the puck before pulling it from post to post and chipping it past Abbott.

The outcome was back in doubt at that moment. Plattsburgh ultimately got the game back under their own control. Madison Walker’s seventh goal of the season added some insurance for the Cardinals, and Annie Katonka added a second goal late in the matchup as Plattsburgh delivered a big win against one of the two teams to beat them in the regular season. The teams split the regular season series at a game apiece.

The teams finished the night a combined 0-for-10 on the power play despite plentiful special teams chances. The Cardinals outshot Adrian for the night by a 28-15 count in the matchup.

The win not only got Plattsburgh closer to the pinnacle they seek, but it was also a measure of redemption for the Cardinals. Plattsburgh was eliminated in the semifinal round by Elmira last year in a loss that denied them a fifth straight national title, and they later lost in the third place game. The team to beat them for third place, Hamline, may await as the team’s opponent as the Pipers meet top-seeded St. Thomas at 7 p.m. Central on Friday in Mendota Heights. As of this writing at 8:04 PM Eastern, Hamline leads the Tommies 2-0.

Women's Frozen Four Preview: Plattsburgh State v. Adrian

More news about: Adrian | Plattsburgh State

Compiled by D3hockey.com staff --

Friday's first semifinal, slated for 3:00 p.m. CDT start, will feature Plattsburgh State and Adrian, two clubs that are no strangers despite the fact they hail from opposite regions.

Plattsburgh State has spent the entire season ranked first or second in the D3hockey.com Women's Top 10 as it has rolled to a 27-win season. The Cardinals scored the NEWHL postseason championship with a 7-1 win over Oswego State and 5-0 blanking of Cortland, and NCAA tournament wins over Endicott (3-2 (ot)) and Williams (5-3) have advanced the Cardinals to yet another Frozen Four.

Adrian posted a rather impressive season of its own as the Bulldogs have racked up 23 wins and advanced to the NCAAs with a dramatic 3-2 double overtime win over St. Scholastica in the NCHA title game. In last week's quarterfinals, Adrian notched yet another extra-time win as it went on the road and unseated top-ranked Elmira 3-2 in overtime.

The Cardinals and Bulldogs have a bit of NCAA history with each other and it's a rather notable one at that as the two met for the 2017 national title in a contest that saw Plattsburgh score a late, comeback win in what might be one of the most memorable women's Division III games of all-time. This year's editions are also familiar with each other as the two have already played twice this season. Both hold one win to their name as Adrian pulled out a 1-0 win on November 24 while Plattsburgh answered back with a 2-0 win on January 6.

 

   NO 2.  PLATTSBURGH STATE CARDINALS  (27-2-0)

 

PLATTSBURGH STATE CARDINALS


Record:
27-2-0 overall; 16-0-0 NEWHL

Location: Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Enrollment: 5,351

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

NCAA Tournament History: 15th appearance, 28-10-0 overall

Road to the Frozen Four: W 3-2 (ot) v. Endicott; W 5-3 v. Williams

Scoring offense: 5.00 g/gm

Scoring defense: 0.79 g/gm

Power Play: 26.4%

Penalty Kill: 96.5%

Players to Watch:
F, so., Annie Katonka (30-20-50)
F, sr., Courtney Moriarty (17-22-39)
F, sr., Mackenzie illen (11-23-34)
F, fr., Taylor Whitney (11-14-25)
F, so., Kaitlin Drew-Mead (11-12-23)
D, so., Erin McArdle (3-22-25)
D, so., Hannah Kiraly (3-18-21)
D, fr., Sierra Benjamin (2-16-18)
G, sr., Kassi Abbott (27-2-0, 0.81, .954)

 

ADRIAN BULLDOGS

Record: 23-4-2 overall, 15-1-2 NCHA

Location: Adrian, Mich.

Enrollment: 1,420

Road to the NCAAs: Pool A automatic qualifier; NCHA playoff champion

NCAA Tournament History: 5th appearance; 2-4-0

Road to the Frozen Four: W 3-2 (ot) @ Elmira

Scoring offense: 4.00 g/gm

Scoring defense: 1.34 g/gm

Power Play: 21.0%

Penalty Kill: 91.3%

Players to Watch:
F, sr., Tory Harshman (14-19-33)
F, jr., Jacqueline White (9-21-30)
F, sr., Kortney Diaz (16-8-24)
F, jr., Maggie Mitter (12-12-24)
F, jr., Brooke Schembri (9-15-24)
F, jr., Brianna Buchanan (10-14-24)
D, jr., Kelly O'Sullivan (7-14-21)
D, sr., Shelly Czarnowczan (5-12-17)
G, Denisa Jandova (11-0-2, 0.84, .957)
G, Kate Turner (8-4-0, 2.16, .898)

It's another year and another final weekend appearance for the Cardinals. This year's appearance will mark their 13th Frozen Four which stands as the most of any Division III women's program. In their 12 prior appearances the Cardinals have skated away as national champions on six occassions.

This year's path to the Frozen Four was perhaps a bit tougher than what Plattsburgh is used to as not only was it resigned to a first-round game, but once there received a tough test from Endicott that wasn't settled until Annie Katonka netted the game-winner 45 seconds into overtime. The Cardinals were also tested by Williams in last weekend's quarterfinals as the Ephs scored to make it a 3-3 game with 11:41 to play, but goals later in the period by Nicole Unsworth and Mackenzie Millen that came just eight seconds apart helped lift the Cardinals to the win.

As far as what this year's edition of the team brings to the table, it's a lot of the same things the Cardinals have become notorious for. While that sounds simple, it's because it's simply true: they score a lot, they almost never get scored on, and they boast a plethora of high end talent -- many with familiar names.

Plattsburgh rolls into the weekend averaging five goals per game which leads the nation. Katonka leads all Cardinal scorers as she leads the nation with 30 goals scored while her 50 points rate as second-best. After Katonka, the Cardinals boast two other forwards that have topped the 30-point mark in seniors Courtney Moriarty (17-22-39) and Millen (11-23-34), as well as six others who have eclipsed the 20-point plateau.

Included in that group is a pair of defenseman in Erin McArdle (3-22-25) and Hannah Kiraly (3-18-21), and all-told the Cardinals bring seven skaters to the table that have scored at least ten goals this year.

With the nation's top-scoring offense in-tow, the Cardinals also enter the weekend with the top-ranked scoring defense in the land as they have conceded a paltry 0.79 goals per game. While thanks in large part to a team effort that often leads to dominant advantages in puck possession, as evidenced by the fact they have outshot the opposition by 30 goals per game on average, significant credit also goes to the play of senior goaltender Kassi Abbott.

In 29 appearances this year Abbot holds a 27-2-0 record, 0.81 goals-against-average and .954 save percentage.

The Cardinals have also been lights out on special teams with a power play that has converted 26.4% of the time and a penalty kill that has allowed just four goals in the year which is good for a remarkable 96.5% kill rate.

Statistically speaking, this year's Plattsburgh team is better than last year's that came up just short in the NCAAs as it fell 3-2 in double overtime to Elmira in the semifinals before falling 5-4 to Hamline in overtime in the third-place game.

Those results ended the Cardinals' string of four consecutive titles and they are now back with anexperienced and talented group, many of whom were there for the last championship as well as last year's disappointment, and there's little doubt that a team with no discernable weaknesses will be hungry to score national title number seven.

 

   NO. 4  ADRIAN BULLDOGS  (23-4-2)

If there's one thing that really stands out when it comes to this year's Adrian team it's that it enters the weekend as battle-tested as any team out there.

The Bulldogs went out of their way to face a murderer's row of a non-conference schedule that included two games at UW-River Falls, two meetings with Plattsburgh, and single contests with Middlebury and Norwich. Not bad when sandwiched within an 18-game NCHA league schedule, and Adrian's lone blemish against anyone else this season came at the hands of a Lake Forest team that finished 16-7-5 and spent time ranked within the Top 10.

Adrian posted a respectable 3-3 mark in those games and went on the road to face yet another national power last weekend in top-ranked Elmira. Perhaps the brutal schedule paid off as despite being outshot 52-38 by the Soaring Eagles, the Bulldogs hung tough and picked up some stellar goaltending from Denisa Jandová to buy enough time for Jessica VonRuden to bury the game-winner at the 17:36 mark of overtime.

This year's Frozen Four appearance will mark the second for the Bulldogs. The first came in 2017 when it came out on the short end of the aforementioned epic championship game against Plattsburgh.

So how has Adrian been getting it done this year?

At an even four goals per game the Bulldogs' offense ranks ninth in the nation and has been led by a group of six forwards that have put up at least 24 points on the year, five of which are upperclassmen. Senior Tory Harshman leads all Adrian scorers with 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points, while Kortney Diaz' 16 goals rank as most on the club. Jacqueline White has added 30 points of her own while three others have posted 24.

Defensively, Adrian has been as stingy as ever and ranks sixth in the country with 1.34 goals allowed per game. The blueliners also have been noticeable on the offensive end as four have posted at least 13 points, including Kelly O'Sullivan (7-14-21) and Shelly Czarnowczan (5-12-17).

In goal, Jandová and Kate Turner have split time this year but its the former who has gotten the nod in all four postseason games. For the season, in 14 appearances Jandová holds an 11-0-2 record, 0.84 goals-against-aversage and .957 save percentage, though Turner got the nod in the Bulldogs' 1-0 win over Plattsburgh earlier in the year.

Overall, it's not possible to get any closer to a national championship and not win it than Adrian was in 2017, and with a slew of upperclass leaders on this year's team there is no doubt they will be eager to get another crack at Plattsburgh State in the NCAAs.

They say you have to beat the best to be the best, and that will certainly be the plan for Adrian as it has already taken down top-ranked Elmira; Will it now be able to upend No. 2 Plattsburgh?

 

~

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