Gustavus, Concordia host Thursday's Women's Hockey Playoff semifinals


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Tuesday's thrilling overtime first-round game of the 2012 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs is hopefully a sign of more great things to come as the tournament continues Thursday. Top-seeded Gustavus will host Tuesday's winner - No. 5 Bethel - while second-seeded Concordia welcomes No. 3 St. Thomas to Moorhead with a trip to Saturday's title game on the line.

The Royals (12-10-4) started the postseason in a big way, eventually winning a classic game at No. 4 St. Olaf (9-13-4) on Molly Eagles' game-winning goal just over six minutes into overtime. Bethel was down 2-0, but used a hat trick from Biz Huss and to pull into the lead midway through the third period. The Oles tied the game with less than two minutes left to force overtime, with one of five total goal scored in a wild final frame.

Bethel's reward for its amazing win? A trip to St. Peter Thursday night to face the sixth-ranked Gusties, who just wrapped up its eighth-straight MIAC regular season title. Gustavus was nearly perfect against conference competition, going 16-1-1 in MIAC play, and ending the regular season with a 21-2-2 overall mark. Thursday's semifinal game is a rematch of last year's championship, which the Gusties won 3-0 en route to their fourth-straight postseason conference title. Gustavus swept the Royals, 5-1 and 6-3, back on Nov. 11-12 in the team's regular season series.

Another interesting storyline is the matchup of the MIAC's top two individual award winners, which were released Thursday. Gustavus senior Allie Schwab is the MIAC Player-of-the-Year with 22 goals and 18 assists for 40 points this season. She leads the league in goals, points and game-winning goals. Meanwhile, Royal defender Rachael Geng won the MIAC Shelia Brown award for her contributions to Bethel on and off the ice, and both players headlined four All-Conference selections apiece for their teams. Forwards Amanda Cartony and Mollie Carroll defender Linsday Hjelm were also honored for the Gusties, while Huss, Anna Carlson and Cristina Masten joined Geng on the All-MIAC team as well.

The other semifinal will have seven All-MIAC players on the ice and the MIAC Coach-of-the-Year on the bench, as the Tommies (15-8-2) travel north to face Brett Bruininks' 10th-ranked Cobbers (14-4-5) on the day he was honored as the league's top coach this season. Concordia swept the season series at St. Thomas on Dec. 2-3 with 2-1 and 4-1 victories, so the Cobbers hope their success against UST continues, while the Tommies hope the road team can win each of the three games the teams play this season.

Concordia's Katelyn Dold earned her third-straight All-Conference honor Thursday in a season that saw her score the third-most points in the league (31) with the second-most assists (21). Abby Taffe (27) and Breann Julius (25) add more scoring punch to the Cobber offense, while St. Thomas counters with Kaylee Keys (22 points) and Meghan Parker (19 points). All-MIAC goalie Alise Riedel will try to use her league-leading .946 save percentage to limit the explosive Concordia offense.

Fans that can't make the trip to St. Peter or Moorhead can keep up with the action live online. Gustavus will offer live video, audio and stats from the Gusties-Royals matchup, and Concordia will have live audio and stats as well from the Cobber-Tommie semifinal. Both games are set to start at 7 p.m., and the winners will advance to Saturday's championship game, which will be hosted by the highest remaining seed at a time yet to be determined.

The winner of the title also receives the MIAC's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Hockey Tournament. For complete details regarding the 2012 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs, including scores, schedules, box scores, recaps, links to live broadcasts, team information and more, visit the event's home page.

2012 MIAC Women's Hockey Playoffs
First Round: Tuesday, February 28
No. 5 Bethel 5, No. 4 St. Olaf 4 (OT) | Box Score | Recaps: MIAC - BU - STO |

Semifinals: Thursday, March 1
No. 5 Bethel @ No. 1 Gustavus | 7 p.m. | St. Peter, Minn. | Live Video/Audio/Stats |
No. 3 St. Thomas @ No. 2 Concordia | 7 p.m. | Moorhead, Minn. | Live: Audio - Stats |

Championship: Saturday, March 3
Semifinal winners @ highest remaining seed | Time: TBD | Location: TBD |

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.