Pipers beat ‘Cats, progress to playoffs

Women’s hockey team is playoff-bound for the first time since the 2007-08 season.

Sophomore forward Brede Postier takes a draw against a St. Kate’s player in Hamline’s 1-2 loss at home to St. Kate’s. The Pipers split the home-and-home series with the Wildcats.

Josh Dungan, Sports Editor

Sophomore forward Brede Postier takes a draw against a St. Kate’s player in Hamline’s 1-2 loss at home to St. Kate’s. The Pipers split the home-and-home series with the Wildcats.

Rebecca Higgins, Reporter

It’s not often that Hamline athletics experiences a record-setting winning streak or gets a chance to play in the MIAC playoffs. Hamline’s women’s hockey team has managed to do both.

Hamline started its winning streak with a 3-1 win over St. Ben’s. Hamline’s women’s hockey team then won four more games, setting a new record for the Pipers’ female hockey team. The team attributes their wins to successful use of game strategies.

“We win by focusing on one-on-one battles, generating scoring opportunities and staying out of the penalty box,” Head Coach Natalie Darwitz said.

One of the ways the Pipers are focusing on one-on-one battles is by winning face-offs. The Pipers won an average of 33 face-offs per game during their five game winning streak and lost an average of just 25 face-offs per game. The only game their opponents won the majority of face-offs was at Bethel on Jan. 28, when the Pipers beat them by a tidy 4-1 margin despite going 21 of 49 in face-offs.

Hamline’s women’s hockey team swept its series against St. Mary’s and Bethel, tying them for first place with Augsburg College. The Pipers were then swept by Augsburg, putting them fourth in the MIAC. The Pipers had a tough time on the road, losing 2-7, but showed much better at home, losing just 1-2. Hamline’s women’s hockey team planned to break their losing streak with their two games against Saint Kate’s.

“Our strategies [to win] are playing our games as a team and winning one on one battles,” Darwitz said.

In the first game against Saint Kate’s, the Pipers tied the Wildcats in face-offs, with both teams winning 24 apiece. Hamline used their advantage in shots on goal (39 to 23) to sneak past St. Kate’s 3-2, keeping its spot as fourth in the conference and securing their place in the MIAC playoffs. This will be the Pipers first appearance in the playoffs in nearly a decade. The last time they tasted the postseason was during the 2007-2008 season.

The Pipers tried to protect their home rink, but lost their second game against the Wildcats. Both teams were relentless, and kept each other off the scoreboard until early in the third period.

St. Kate’s scored first, with junior forward Anna Carman sneaking a shot past Hamline’s junior goaltender Jaime Hathaway. Hamline responded less than three minutes later, with first-year forward Bre Simon scoring her team-leading 16th goal of the season.

The teams remained deadlocked the rest of the way, Hamline peppering the St. Kate’s goaltender with nine more shots on goal in the period.

With the score standing at one to one, the teams transitioned into overtime. Saint Kate’s stood strong despite a Hamline power play, and the Pipers were frustrated again and again. The game seemed certain to go to a shootout until the Wildcats managed one last rush and somehow snuck the puck behind Hathaway with just 20 seconds remaining in overtime.

The Pipers fired an astounding 50 shots on goal in Saturday’s game, while allowing just 19, and went 35 of 71 in face-offs, but St. Kate’s was up to the challenge and they came away with the 1-2 victory.

“We are not focused on where we finish the season, we focus on what comes out on the ice. If we play our game, we can compete with any team,” Darwitz said.

Hamline’s women’s hockey team remains in fourth place in the MIAC with a record of 10-6-1 and an overall record of 12-10-1. The Pipers have 20 points and are one point ahead of fifth-place St. Thomas.

Hamline will finish its regular season against Gustavus Adolphus this weekend. They play in St. Peter, Mn. on Friday at 7:00 p.m., and return home for their final regular season game this Saturday, Feb. 18, for a 2:00 p.m. game at Oscar Johnson Arena. Hamline’s first playoff game will be determined by how they compete against Gustavus and will take place either Feb. 23 or 25.