Over the next three days, we will crown five league champions and start to put the first pieces of the puzzle together on who will be competing for the 2012 NCAA Division III championship. On Monday, we’ll find out who the final three teams are that secured the at-large bids when the NCAA holds its selection show on NCAA.com. at 10 a.m. EST.
Two teams are one win away from locking up the first automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, as Gustavus Adolphus and Concordia (Minn.) both won tonight to advance to the MIAC Championship game. Concordia (Minn.) took care of business with a 4-1 win over St. Thomas, while Gustavus Adolphus slipped by Bethel, 1-0, in overtime thanks to Courtney Boucher finally getting a puck past Jessica Newstrom to lift the Gusties to the win 6:25 into overtime.
Gustavus has dominated this conference for the past decade, and I just don’t see it ending this year. The Gusties beat Concordia, 4-1, and tied them, 3-3, earlier this year in their two meetings at Concordia. Coach Carroll’s club on home ice at the Don Roberts Arena I think is too much for Concordia to try and overcome. I like Gustavus Adolphus, 3-1, in this one.
Wisconsin-Superior vs. Adrian
Adrian took three points from Wis.-Superior on Nov. 11-12, but I think things go a bit differently this time around. Dani Schultz has been on a tear for the Yellowjackets to help lead them to a 10-2-1 record in their last 13 games. Adrian isn’t too shabby either over its last 11 games, with a 10-1 mark. Wis.-Superior has been playing a little bit better competition though as of late, and they own some nice wins this season over Wisconsin-River Falls and a 5-1 win over Gustavus Adolphus. I think Wis.-Superior gets some revenge and wins this one, 4-2.
Lake Forest at Wis.-River Falls
Lake Forest rebounded from losing three of its last four games with a sweep over St. Scholastica last weekend in the NCHA Quarterfinals. However, without Kim Herring scoring at her sophomore season pace, I just don’t see the Forresters keeping up with Wis.-River Falls in this one. The Falcons are too strong and too deep for Lake Forest to skate with for a full 60 minutes. Wis.-River Falls rolls, 4-0
Wis.-Superior @ Wis.-River Falls
Even with how wide open the NCHA was this season after UWRF, if you were a betting person, I’d have to imagine Wis.-Superior was probably the first pick on the list to meet the Falcons in the final this year. I like the way Wis.-Superior has been playing lately, but I just don’t think Wis.-River Falls will be denied this year after it lost in the NCHA finals last year and in the NCAA quarterfinals. Coach Cranston’s crew gets it done this year and Wis.-River Falls wins it, 3-2.
Eastern picks to come tomorrow!