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College Hockey:
RIT To Host NCAA Semifinals/Championship Weekend

Six days later, all seems right in the world.

After the NCAA selection show last Monday set the D-III women’s hockey world off with how everything ended up shaking out, one week later we’re in the exact scenario we expected would happen and rightfully did happen.

Today, the NCAA announced that RIT and the Frank Ritter Memorial Arena will be the host of the 2011 Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championships on March 18 and 19.

The Tigers gained the hosting rights after trouncing NCHA champion Adrian 10-1 in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.

NESCAC champion Middlebury downed the ECAC East champion Manhattanville Valiants 1-0 as well to punch its ticket to the semifinals for the sixth time and first since 2009 where the Panthers hosted the event at the Chip Kenyon ’85 Arena.

Gustavus Adolphus was the first team to join Norwich in the semifinals after the Gusties avenged an earlier season defeat to Wis. River Falls with a 4-1 win over the Falcons on Friday night at Hunt Arena.

Norwich received a bye to the semifinal round despite losing in the ECAC East Championship game to Manhattanville.

Norwich will face Gustavus Adolphus in the first semifinal at 3:30 p.m., followed by RIT hosting Middlebury in the nightcap at 7 p.m. The winners will advance to Saturday’s NCAA Division III National Championship with faceoff set for 7 p.m. The losers of the two semifinal games will face-off in the Third Place Game at 3:30 p.m.

RIT makes its first appearance in the semifinals in what has been a record-setting season for the program. The Tigers have already established a new program-best for wins with 25 and won their first ECAC West Tournament and regular season titles since joining the conference in 2007.

Senior Katie Stack became the program’s all-time leader in goals during the win over Adrian and earlier this season, fellow senior Sarah Dagg set the new all-time record for career assists in a Tiger uniform.

Norwich returns to the semfinal/championship weekend for the second straight year and is making its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance in just the program’s fourth year as a varsity team.

The Cadets fell 7-2 to Amherst in last year’s final after they defeated Elmira 3-2 to move on to the championship.

Norwich has also set a new program-record for wins in a season with 23 already this season. The Cadets also won their first ECAC East regular season title and hosted the ECAC East Tournament at Kreitzberg Arena for the first time.

Middlebury returns as the only team that has won the whole thing before as the Panthers won three straight from 2004-2006. Middlebury wrapped up its fifth NESCAC Tournament title and in the process qualified for its ninth NCAA Tournament, which ties for the lead with Gustavus Adolphus for most NCAA appearances in the 10-year history of sponsoring a D-III championship.

The Panthers downed Manhattanville 1-0 on the strength of a Maggie Woodward third period goal at the 13:59 mark to advance to the next round. Alexi Bloom also picked up her remarkable 11th shutout of the season. She is only two away from Wis. Stevens Point’s Amy Statz’s record of 13 shutouts in a single season.

Gustavus Adolphus won its eighth straight MIAC Tournament title and scored three first period goals to run away from Wis. River Falls early in its NCAA Quarterfinal game to punch its ticket to Rochester.

The Gusties have held a stranglehold on the Minnesota schools over the last decade and they continued their dominace this year with another regular season title as well.

Gustavus Adolphus makes its fifth appearance in the NCAA semifinals, but the Gusties are still looking for their first win in the semifinal round and thus have never made an appearance in the national championship game.

With Friday’s 4-1 win over River Falls, the Gusties clinched their eighth straight season of 22 or more wins. No team has even come close to touching that record in the NCAA era. Plattsburgh is the closest with a current streak of eight straight years of 20 or more wins. Manhattanville had five consecutive seasons with 22 or more wins and Middlebury had four.

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