D-III West College Hockey Playoff Wrap: Tommies stun rival Johnnies

St. Thomas knocked off Saint John’s in the semifinal round of the MIAC tournament Saturday. (Photo courtesy of St. Thomas athletics)

There are no surprises when it comes to how the NCHA and WIAC tournaments played out over the weekend as teams accustomed to playing for those titles will do it one more time. Meanwhile in the MIAC, there will be a new champion for sure after Concordia ended Augsburg’s bid to win a fifth consecutive title.

Check out storylines from the weekend below.

Tommies ride momentum into championship game

St. Thomas has historically been one of the top teams in the MIAC. 

The Tommies are now one win away from winning its 11th conference tournament crown in program history.

After beating Gustavus in the quarterfinal round Thursday, the Tommies were on top of their game Saturday in a semifinal showdown with rival Saint John’s, skating to a 4-1 win on the road.

Brett Gravelle scored twie while Jack Christensen and Jack Vincent added goals for the Tommies. Kyle Wagner punched in the lone goal for the Johnnies, who had won seven of their last eight. Gravelle has tallied 50 goals in his career.

Henry Baribeau came up big in goal, stopping 34 shots, helping to catapult the Tommies to their first conference title game since 2017.

St. Thomas is now seeking its first playoff title since 2014.

But the Tommies seemed like an unlikely contender for the title a little over a month ago, going winless in its last three games of January.

They then dropped three of their first five to start February before putting together their current four-game winning streak over the last nine days.

This time of year is all about playing your best hockey at the right time and the Tommies are doing that. They have scored four or more goals three times during the streak and are 14-10-3 on the year. St. Thomas is 13-0-3 when scoring three or more goals.

Cobbers end Auggies’ run

Concordia took advantage of playing four-time champion Augsburg at home, edging the Auggies 3-2 Saturday in a MIAC tournament semifinal.

The Cobbers now have a shot at their first tourney crown since 2000 and have guaranteed there will be a new conference champion for the first time in five years.

Parker Simonson punched in a pair of goals for the Cobbers and Keaton Leininger added a goal as well for the Cobbers, who also won a MIAC title in 1987. That is also the last time they hosted a MIAC championship game. 

Simonson came into the game with just two goals on the year and Concordia has won its last four games, giving up just five goals during the win streak.

They are 14-10-2 on the season, marking the second time in the last four years they have  won 14 games. Jacob Stephan stopped 20 shots for his 10th win of the year. The Cobbers will host the Tommies Saturday for the Ed Saugestad Cup and are 12-1-2 when allowing three goals or less in a game. 

Pointers, Blugolds advance to WIAC title game

Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Eau Claire took care of business in their semifinal series over the weekend.

The Pointers rolled past Wisconsin-River Falls 5-1 and 4-1 while the Blugolds took out the Yellow Jackets 4-1 and 2-0.

UW-Stevens Point and UW-Eau Claire will now play for the Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday in Stevens Point.

The Pointers are headed to the WIAC final for the sixth consecutive season and are the reigning national champions. Steven Qaugliata and Carter Roo scored two goals apiece in Saturday’s finale as the Pointers stretched their unbeaten streak to 15 games. They haven’t lost a game since Dec. 7 when they were beaten 3-2 by Northland.

The Blugolds set up a fourth consecutive meeting with the Pointers in the title game by shutting out the Yellow Jackets. Zach Dyment made 33 saves to record his sixth shutout of the season while improving his record to 18-3-2. 

Tyler Tomberlin and Jon Richards both scored goals for the Blugolds, with Richards punching in his 12th of the year. He upped his point total to 28 while helping UW-Eau Claire win for the ninth time in its last 10 games.

A familiar look to the NCHA title game

Adrian and St. Norbert will once again play for the Harris Cup. The Bulldogs edged Trine 4-3 Saturday in its semifinal game while the Green Knights are headed to the title game for the 18th time in program history after blanking Marian 2-0.

Adrian stretched its win streak to 12 games Saturday with the victory, its longest streak since the 2017-18 season and improved to 9-0 all-time against the Thunder.

Rex Moe scored twice in the third period to help Adrian rally and avoid the upset. Dino Balsamo and Sam Ruffin also scored in the game, with Balsamo notching his 19th goal of the year. Cameron Gray made 16 saves and won his 17th game of the year. Brett Young stopped 45 shots for the Thunder.

For St. Norbert, it was sweet revenge after losing both games to Marian in the regular season. The Green Knights got goals from Dominick Sacco and and Brendan Aird while Colby Entz stopped 26 shots in goal to help the Green Knights continue their quest for a fourth consecutive championship.