Bre Simon said the Hamline women's hockey team wanted to "create chaos" in the St. Thomas end during Friday's NCAA D-III Women's Ice Hockey semifinal game. Her coach, Natalie Darwitz, said they wanted to "dictate the pace."
Player and coach got their wish as the Pipers bolted to a 2-0 lead in the first 2:25 of play and went on to defeat the Tommies,. 3-0, before 1,183 fans at a packed St. Thomas Arena. The win set a new school record with 24. But that stat paled with the fact that the Pipers became the first MIAC team ever to advance to a D-III championship game. Hamline (24-3-3) will face Plattsburgh State (28-2) at St. Thomas Arena on Saturday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m.
HU wasted no time getting the huge Hamline contingent fired up, Becca Zarembinski ripped a shot from the right side for her eighth goal of the season 95 seconds into the game. 50 seconds later, Simon, who won the Laura Hurd award as the top D-III women's player in the country the night before, rebounded a shot from Leah Schwartzman into the net and it was suddenly 2-0.
It stayed that way for a long time afterwards. The Piper plan was to keep the Tommies away from goalie Jaela O'Brien as much as possible. It worked in the first period as UST was held to just three shots on goal. For a while in the second period, it worked as well. Then the Tommies began to get free and ended up testing O'Brien with 17 shots on goal. The freshman wasn't fazed and knocked them all away. Midway in the period, with HU on a power play, Madison Kolbow took a feed from Olivia Arkell and blew a shot home for what proved to be the final goal of the night.
Hamline tightened up in the third period, keeping the Tommies at bay with just five shots on goal. O'Brien was equal to that as well, finishing the night with 25 saves.
HU unloaded 32 shots with Schwartzman leading the way with seven and Arkell coming up with five. The Pipers also held a huge edge in faceoffs, 41-25.
The championship game pits the Pipers against the Cardinals, who defeated Adrian, 4-1, earlier in the day. It's a rematch of last year's third place game that saw Hamline edge the Cardinals, 5-4, in overtime. "We're going to enjoy this one tonight," Darwitz said, "When we get up in the morning, we know what we will have to do. They are a very good team who can come at you in waves."
It will be the first time a Hamline team has played for a national title since Joe Hutton's basketball team lost in the 1953 NAIA Championship game.