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Comeback win, home Frozen Four for Women's Hockey

Comeback win, home Frozen Four for Women's Hockey

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NOTE: Frozen Four Time Change from earlier version of story

No. 1-ranked St. Thomas Women's Hockey has qualified for the program's second Division III Frozen Four trip, thanks to Saturday's comeback victory on home ice over UW-Eau Claire.

The Tommies (25-1-2) scored the tying and go-ahead goals in a 91-second span early in the third period, added an empty netter, and eventually won 4-3 to advance to the national semifinals for the second time in six seasons.

As a bonus, St. Thomas has been announced as the host school and will welcome Hamline, Adrian (Mich.) and Plattsburgh (N.Y.) State to their Mendota Heights home rink March 15-16.

The Tommies will play Hamline for the fourth time in 29 days next Friday at 7 p.m. in the second semifinal; Adrian and Plattsburgh play at 3 p.m. Central time. Those winners play Saturday at 7 p.m. for the NCAA championship.

The Tommies ran their home-ice unbeaten streak to 22 (20-0-2), including 15-0 record this season. Coach Tom Palkowski's team has lost just once -- a 3-2 overtime decision at Hamline three weeks ago -- in their last 41 games (33-1-7).

They have allowed two or less in goals in 32 of their last 35 games in regulation time. They allowed a goal with 16 seconds left Saturday, otherwise it would be 33 of 35 with two or less allowed.

The Purple received goals from four different players, got 29 saves from goalie Kenzie Torpy, and won despite playing what Palkowski called "not our best game."

The No. 8-ranked Blugolds (21-6-2) scored two power-play goals in the second period -- the team's 32nd and 33rd power-play scores of the season -- to rally into a 2-1 lead.

Early in period three Eau Claire initially was credited with a third power-play score. But after a long discussion, that goal was waved off as it was ruled the goal apparatus came loose.

After play resumed St. Thomas killed off that penalty, then used a tying goal from Sarah Moy with under 16:00 to play. Less than two minutes later, Anna Erickson scored for a 3-2 lead. It was te first collegiate goal for Erickson, a Fargo North High grad.

Rachel Werdin scored off a long empty-net shot with 31 seconds remaining as St. Thomas went up 4-2. The Blugolds responded with a quick score, but they were unable to get the equalizer goal in the closing seconds.

This marked St. Thomas' third notable comeback in the final period against a ranked team. They scored twice in the third to erase a 2-0 deficit in a 2-2 January tie at Gusatvus; they turned a 2-0 deficit against Hamline into a 3-2 win at home on Feb. 15.

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Preview story

St. Thomas Women's Hockey plays host to UW-Eau Claire Saturday at 2 p.m. in Mendota Heights in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 NCAA Women's Hockey Playoffs.

It's the teams' first meeting of the 2018-19 season. 

Today's winner advances to the national semifinal game March 15 against the winner of Saturday afternoon's Hamline-River Falls contest at a site to be announced.

The Blugolds have won 12 of their last 13 contests, and average four goals a game this season. They have scored 31 power-play goals in 28 games.

The Blugolds did well against MIAC teams this season including a tie and a close loss to both Gustavus and Hamline. Senior Courtney Wittig will play in her 110th career game and has a team-best 26 goals this season. They have more road wins (11) than home victories (10), and are 15-0-1 in games when they score first.

The No. 1-ranked Toms' 24 wins are the most in program history, incluing a 14-0 run at home. They moved to the top of D-III in the U.S. College Hockey Online national poll for the first time in program history.

St. Thomas goalie Kenzie Torpy's 68 career wins move her to No. 1 all-time in the MIAC -- she's played in 101 career games in goal and recently surpassed 2,000 saves. The Purple have allowed two or less goals in regulation play in 32 of the last 34 contests.

Rachel Werdin leads the offense with 16 goals, and Maddy Fiedler has 25 assists. 

 

NCAA D-III Women's Hockey Tournament

Wednesday Games

Plattsburgh State 3, Endicott 2 (OT)

Williams 3, Norwich 1

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Saturday's Games 

Plattsburgh 5, Williams 3 

Adrian 3, Elmira 2 OT

St. Thomas 4, UW-Eau Claire 3

Hamline 5, UW-River Falls 1

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Friday March 15/at Saint Thomas Ice Arena, Mendota Heights

3 p.m.: Hamline (22-3-3) vs. St. Thomas (25-1-2)

7 p.m.: Adrian (23-4-2) vs. Plattsburgh (27-2)

 

Saturday March 16

7 p.m.: Championship