Late charge gives Adrian NCHA title
Notes: Familar foes to meet in first round of NCAA tournament
Five minutes into the second period of the NCHA Championship Game, it looked as if the University of Wisconsin-River Falls would enter the 2011 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship with a chance at an undefeated season. With her second goal of the game and 20th of the season, freshman sensation Kait Mason had staked the Falcons to a 3-0 lead. Goaltender Cassi Campbell had stopped all 19 shots she’d faced. Put simply, the O’Brien Cup appeared to be in the Falcons’ grasp, to the delight of the crowd in River Falls.
That was before the Adrian Bulldogs got going.
Nicky Futers put Adrian on the board with 8:01 remaining in the second period, Stacey Kempson scored an extra-attacker goal with 90 seconds remaining in regulation, and Nina Laurie scored 12:19 into overtime to give the Bulldogs the O’Brien Cup and the NCHA’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Women’s Championship tournament.
Kempson was a key catalyst for the Bulldogs, assisting on Olivia Rork’s goal with 3:05 remaining, which brought Adrian within one. The goal and assist gave her a team-best 26 points on the season (16g, 10a), and with Laurie making good on her overtime opportunity, Kempson and her fellow seniors put an exclamation point on their careers at Adrian, where they were part of the first NCAA women’s hockey team in school history.
Not that they’re done yet. The Bulldogs will travel to RIT this weekend for a quarterfinal game, facing another team that went deep into the season before its first loss. The Tigers bounced back to capture the ECAC West championship, and enter the tournament withj a record of 24-1-2.
The Falcons, meanwhile, will dust themselves off and get to work on capturing an NCAA Championship. UWRF will host Gustavus Adolphus, which shut out Bethel on Saturday to capture the MIAC Championship and the conference’s automatic bid into the tournament. The Golden Gusties head into the tournament with the longest unbeaten streak in Division III at 13 games (11-0-2).
Need to Know
• Having just captured the 2011 ECAC Hockey Championship after a 20-1-1 record in conference play, No. 2 Cornell should probably be happy to see a conference foe as their quarterfinal opponent in the NCAA National Collegiate Women’s Ice Hockey Championship tournament. On the other hand, the conference foe in question is the team responsible for Cornell’s lone conference loss, as Dartmouth will travel to Lynah Rink in Ithaca, N.Y. for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday. It will be the third meeting in four weeks between the Big Green and the Big Red, as Dartmouth defeated Cornell on February 18, a win that was likely crucial in securing the Big Green’s at-large berth into the tournament. That at-large berth became necessary on Saturday, when junior goalkeeper Amanda Mazzotta stopped all 14 shots she faced in a 3-0 championship victory for Cornell, which Dartmouth will look to avenge on Saturday.
• No. 10 Manhattanville stunned No. 3 Norwich on Sunday to win the ECAC East Championship, but the Cadets still earned a bye in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division III championship. Norwich, which had a 17-game unbeaten streak stopped by the Valiants and Jackie Solomito’s two goals, will advance to play the winner of Wisconsin-River Falls and Gustavus Adolphus. The Valiants, meanwhile, will travel to face NESCAC champion Middlebury, a 4-3 winner against two-time defending NCAA Champion Amherst.
• No. 1 Wisconsin, No. 2 Cornell, No. 4 Mercyhurst and No. 7 Boston College had two players each named among the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award. The Badgers are represented by senior forward Meghan Duggan and junior forward Hilary Knight, the Big Red by junior forward Rebecca Johnston and sophomore defenseman Laura Fortino, the Lakers by senior forwards Meghan Agosta and Vicki Bendus and the Eagles by senior forward Kelli Stack and senior goaltender Molly Schaus.
• Wisconsin heads into its NCAA quarterfinal game against Minnesota Duluth riding the longest unbeaten streak in college hockey. The Badgers are 22-0-2 since a 3-1 loss to the Bulldogs on Nov. 28, their only loss at the Kohl Center this season and a feat that UMD will look to repeat when they meet at 7 p.m. CT Saturday.
• Trinity senior forward Kim Weiss was named the NESCAC Player of the Year on March 3, making it back-to-back years that the Bantams have had the conference’s top player. With 107 points (62g, 45a) in four years -- including 30 points (22g, 8a) in her senior campaign -- Weiss is the first player in the Trinity program’s 13-year history to record 100 points in her career.
• Boston College senior forward Kelli Stack was named the MVP of the 2011 Hockey East tournament after helping the Eagles earn their first Hockey East women’s title and home ice for Saturday’s NCAA quarterfinal game against Minnesota. The all-time leading scorer in Eagles history assisted on the game-tying goal against Providence during Saturday’s semifinal, setting up her overtime game-winner, then assisted on the game-winning goal in Sunday’s 3-1 victory over Northeastern.
• Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior forward Kristin Faber was named the 2011 NCHA Player of the Year. Faber recorded 23 points (16g, 7a) in 20 conference games for the Blugolds, leading the team in overall scoring as well with 32 points (22g, 10a) in 27 games.
• Quinnipiac came up short in the ECAC Hockey semifinals, but freshman forward Kelly Babstock gives the Bobcats a lot of hope for the future. After leading the conference in goals (30), assists (28) and points (58), the native of Mississauga, Ontario was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year.