D-III West College Hockey: Tommies, Blugolds and Bulldogs all win conference titles

Wisconsin-Eau Claire is the champion of the WIAC and has received an at-large berth to the NCAA tourney. (Photo courtesy of UW-Eau Claire Athletics)

The NCAA tournament field is set and all three conference champions from the west region are headed to the tourney.

St. Thomas and Adrian punched automatic bids by winning their respective conference titles while Wisconsin-Eau Claire won the WIAC, and though not auto bid is up for grabs in the league, the Blugolds are headed back to the tournament for the first time since 2013.

Tommies make history

Luke Radetic scored twice and helped lift St. Thomas  to a 3-2 win over Concordia Saturday in the MIAC tournament final. The Tommies become the first No. 4 seed to win a MIAC title while extending their win streak to five games.

Radetic punched in the go-ahead goal with 3:52 remaining to assure the Tommies of an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2014. It’s also St. Thomas’ first league crown since that year as well.

Henry Baribeau made 29 saves and has been playing his best hockey as of late, fashioning a 2.20 goals against average over the last seven games.

Radetic is on a roll lately. He has scored five goals while dishing out five assits in the last nine games. Brett Gravelle assisted Radetic on his clutch goal.

Jack Chrsitensen scored first for St. Thomas and Gravelle and Johnny Panvica each dished out two assists.

St. Thomas will open the NCAA tourney against Lake Forest on the road. But playing away from home hasn’t been a problem for the Tommies, who have won 10 road games this year. They are also accustomed to delivering in close games, improving to 8-3 in games decided by one goal.

Blugolds overcome the odds

UW-Eau Claire trailed UW-Stevens Point 2-0 12 minutes into the WIAC tournament title game Saturday night. The outlook was anything but bright for the Blugolds, who were 1-21 in games when trailing after the first period of play.

Yet, momentum soon tilted in favor of UW-Eau Claire, which scored the next four goals to notch a 4-2 victory and win their third Commissioner’s Cup In program history and their first since 2013.

Jake Bresser gave UW-Eau Claire the lead for good at the 7:51 mark of the second period and Logan Von Ruden added an insurance goal. Zach Kennedy and Andrew McGlynn also scored for UW-Eau Claire, which is returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013.

The Blugolds are off until March 21 and await the winner of the first-round game between St. Thomas and Lake Forest.

UW-Eau Claire has won its last three games and it’s win over the reigning national champion was their first against the Pointers this season.

Bulldogs back on top

Adrian has waited four years to rise to the top of the NCHA again. The wait ended Saturday night as the Bulldogs edged rival St. Norbert 3-2 to win the Harris Cup and punch a ticket to the NCAA tournament.

The win was their 300th in program history and their win streak now stands at 13 games. The title is their eighth in program history and their first since 2016.

Rex Moe scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period while Cameron Gray won his 18th game of the year. He made 35 saves. Joey Colatarci scored the other goal for Adrian.

Adrian gets Hobart in the opening round of the NCAA tourney and will ride its longest win streak since the 2017-18 campaign into it. The Bulldogs won 16 consecutive games that season.

St. Norbert had won the last three championships and this was the ninth time the Bulldogs and Green Knights were facing off in the postseason. Adrian is 10-13 all-time against St. Norbert.

When Adrian faces off against Hobart this weekend on the road, it will mark the first time the two teams have ever faced off against each other.