St. Thomas strolls into semis with 6-1 win over Hamline

St. Thomas strolls into semis with 6-1 win over Hamline

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – The University of St. Thomas – winners of three-straight MIAC Women's Hockey Playoff titles – found itself in unfamiliar territory playing in the quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed Friday. However, the Tommies looked right at home back in the postseason, as they rolled to a 5-1 win over No. 5-seeded Hamline at St. Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minn.

A day after being named MIAC Player-of-the-Year for the second-straight season, UST's Kathryn Larson had another standout Playoff performance with two goals – her 16th and 17th of the season, both coming in a four-goal second period – and an assist to lead an impressive offensive display. The offensive outburst coupled with a great showing by goalie Mackenzie Torpy, who stopped 28 of the 29 Piper shots she faced en route to the win. 

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St. Thomas netted what would be the eventual game-winner just 8:22 into the contest, when Becca Zambereski scored her sixth goal of the season. Larson made it 2-0 with her first goal as she cashed in on a power play just 1:51 into what would be a four-goal second period. Leah Schwartzman added a goal just two minutes later, Larson struck again with less than five minutes to play in the second, and Demi Cooper completed the second-period surge with a goal in the closing seconds.

The Tommies made it a six-goal lead eight minutes into the final period when Kaylee Druk netted a goal – her third point of the night as well on an assist from Larson. However, Hamline finished on a high note and avoided the shutout when Bre Simon took advantage of a St. Thomas penalty to net a power-play goal to make it 6-1 at the 11:30 mark of the third. Jaci Reinke assisted on the Pipers' lone goal.

Four UST players had multi-point nights, led by three points each by Larson (two goals, assist) and Druk (goal, two assits). Schwartzman and Zambereski each had a goal and an assist in the win. The Tommies out-shot Hamline 38-29 and both teams were 1-for-3 on the power play. Each committed five penalties for 10 minutes.

The loss ended Hamline's spectacular turnaround season that saw them reach the MIAC Playoffs for the first time since 2007-08. Hamline finished the 2016-17 campaign 12-13-1, while St. Thomas improved to 12-10-4 with the win.

Thanks to Friday's win, fourth-seeded St. Thomas has a quick turnaround – roughly 17 hours – to face a very tough opponent. The Tommies are headed to St. Peter, Minn., on Saturday to take on top-seeded Gustavus in one semifinal at 2 p.m. The other Saturday semifinal will feature No. 3 Concordia traveling to Minneapolis to face No. 2 Augsburg, also at 2 p.m.

The two semifinal winners will square off the following Saturday, March 4, in the 2017 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoff championship game, which will be played on the home ice of the highest remaining seed. The tournament champion will receive the MIAC Playoff championship plaque as well as the conference's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Women's Hockey Tournament. The NCAA will announce the national tournament field on March 6 at 9 a.m. with a live online selection show. St. Thomas is the three-time defending MIAC Playoff champion.

The MIAC has a home page dedicated to the 2017 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs, containing schedules, links and information on each of the five teams in the field. Throughout the tournament, the page will be updated with scores, stats, updated schedules and more. Fans can also follow the action on the MIAC Scoreboard or on the free MIAC mobile app. Connect throughout the Playoffs on social media through the MIAC's FacebookInstagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #MIACWH.


2017 MIAC WOMEN'S HOCKEY PLAYOFFS

Quarterfinals | Friday, Feb. 24, 2017 |
No. 4 St. Thomas 6, No. 5 Hamline 1 | Box Score | 

Semifinals | Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 |
No. 4 St. Thomas at No. 1 Gustavus | St. Peter, Minn. | 2 p.m. |
No. 3 Concordia at No. 2 Augsburg | Minneapolis, Minn. | 2 p.m. |

Championship | Saturday, March 4, 2017 |
Semifinal winners at highest remaining seed | Location: TBA | Time: TBA |


2017 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs