ST. PAUL -- For the first time ever, a women's hockey team from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) will be playing for a national championship. The University of St. Thomas and Hamline University will determine which team that will be next Friday afternoon when the two nationally-ranked women's hockey programs meet in the semifinal round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Tournament. It is the first time ever that two MIAC teams have reached the "Frozen Four."
Both the Tommies and Pipers won their quarterfinal matchups on Saturday afternoon against Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) foes. St. Thomas topped Wis.-Eau Claire, 4-3, while Hamline defeated Wis.-River Falls, 5-1. The victories set up the fourth meeting between HU and UST this season - and the fourth in the last four weeks. St. Thomas holds a 2-1 advantage over the Pipers on the year.
The Tommies - ranked No. 1 in Division III in the latest USCHO.com Poll - put an end to Hamline's school-record 17-game unbeaten streak and won the MIAC regular season title with a 3-2 win at St. Thomas Ice Arena on February 15, but the No. 4-ranked Pipers returned the favor the following afternoon by snapping the UST's NCAA-best 37-game unbeaten streak with a 3-2 overtime win at TRIA Rink. The two teams last met in the MIAC Playoff Championship on March 2 when St. Thomas shutout Hamline, 2-0, to lock up the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament.
Hamline is now headed to its second straight Frozen Four, having defeated Plattsburgh State in the 2018 third-place game by a margin of 5-4 in overtime after falling to eventual champion Norwich in the semifinals. St. Thomas is back in the Frozen Four for the second time in school history. The Toms also reached the semifinals in 2014.
Update: Game times for Friday's Frozen Four matchups now feature Adrian (23-4-2) versus Plattsburgh State (27-2-0) at 3:00 p.m., followed by St. Thomas hosting Hamline at 7:00 p.m. St. Thomas has been selected to host the entire Frozen Four on its home ice in Mendota Heights, Minn. The 2019 NCAA Division III National Championship Game is scheduled for 7:00 PM CDT on Saturday.