Women’s D-III: Conference finals set NCAA tournament matchups

Callie Hoff (10) takes a shot in the second period against UW-Eau Claire in the O'Brien Cup game at Hunt Arena Saturday, March 3, 2018.  Womens Hockey VS Eau Claire_OBrien Cup_03032018_TSWomens Hockey VS Eau Claire_OBrien Cup_03032018_TS (Tori Schneider)
Callie Hoff (10) of Wisconsin-River Falls. (Tori Schneider)

The conference tournaments are over, and the NCAA tournament is about to start. You can see the draw for the Women’s D-III NCAA tournament here. Tournament action saw, for the most part, only minor upsets.

The first minor upset happened in the NCHA tournament, as St. Scholastica upset Lake Forest, 2-0. Lexi Thomeczek made 45 saves in the shutout win. Rachel Anderson scored the game-winner on a power play at 7:18 of the second, and Greta Nundahl doubled the lead at 13:06 of the second period. In the finale, Adrian rolled past St. Scholastica, 4-0. Maggie Mitter scored two goals for the Bulldogs in the win, and Denisa Jandová made 28 saves.

The NESCAC was where the most upsets happened. First, Amherst beat Colby, 3-1, in the second semifinal game. Kaitlin Hoang scored the game-winner at 13:30 of the third period, and Carley Daly added an empty-netter at 18:57 to seal the win. Goalie Caitlin Walker made 28 saves as Amherst scored its first win over Colby this season.

Amherst then faced host Middlebury for the NESCAC championship. The Panthers had defeated Hamilton, 2-1, in the opening game of the tournament semifinals. Needing a win to continue its season, Walker came up huge with 25 saves. Amherst only put 13 shots on net, but capitalized early in the third on a goal from Hoang at 2:27. Middlebury’s Madie Leidt tied it a 6:07, but just 13 seconds later Emma Flynn scored the game-winner.

Wisconsin-River Falls edged Wisconsin-Eau Claire in OT on a goal by Kora Torkelson at 18:34 of the extra session. Trailing 1-0 at the start of the third, Wis.-River Falls got the equalizer from Callie Hoff on a power play at 10:17. Hoff also assisted on the winner in OT. Falcons goalie Sami Miller made 36 saves in the win, while Erin Connolly made 24 in the loss.

Elsewhere, Gustavus Adolphus blanked Augsburg, 3-0, a result that dropped the Auggies to 10th in the PairWise and possibly kept them out of the NCAA tournament. Hailey Holland scored empty-netters at 18:41 and 19:21, while Clara Billings scored the game-winner on a power play at 9:14 of the second. Katie McCoy made 11 saves in the win.

All three teams that were perfect in league play during the regular season easily won their championships. Plattsburgh rolled over Oswego, 6-1, and Norwich crushed Suffolk, 9-2. The Cadets needed that win over Suffolk to qualify for the NCAA tournament, and will open against Amherst. Endicott defeated University of New England, 4-1, for the Colonial Hockey championship. Interestingly, four of the game’s five goals were on power plays, with Lauren Ferraiuolo scoring on a five-on-three at 14:38 of the second to make it 3-1 and Kaylee Liberty scoring on the back end of that power plat at 15:14 for the final margin. Endicott fired 45 shots in UNE.

Lastly, Elmira won the UCHC tournament, defeating Manhattanville in the championship, 5-3. After falling behind 301 in the second on three straight Manhattanville goals, Elmira’s Kelly Matthews started the rally with a power-play goal at 18:50 of the second. Jess Adams tied it at 5:50 of the third, and Emma Crocker scored the game-winner at 14:14 of the third. Adams completed her hat trick with a power-play goal at 14:44 of the third to provide the final margin.