MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. -- For the first time in history, a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) women's hockey team is playing for the NCAA Division III National Championship. On the 99th anniversary of the formation of the conference, two charter members met on the ice with Hamline University punching its ticket to the 2019 NCAA title game thanks to a 3-0 victory over top-seeded St. Thomas on Friday night.
Sophomore forward Madison Kolbow scored one goal and assisted on another, while first-year goalie Jaela O'Brien played well beyond her experience with 25 saves in a shutout victory for the Pipers. Hamline scored two goals in the first three minutes of the contest, taking advantage of the absence of injured St. Thomas All-America goalie Kenzie Torpy, and the Pipers never looked back. Becca Zarembinski scored the first goal of the game just 95 seconds after the puck dropped, with 2019 AHCA National Player of the Year Bre Simon finding the back of the net less than a minute later. Kolbow added the insurance goal midway through the second period.
Hamline (23-3-3) will now move on to the National Championship game against Plattsburgh State (28-2-0), which defeated Adrian College, 4-1, in the other semifinal contest on Friday afternoon. The Pipers and Cardinals are familiar foes - the two teams met in last year's third-place game, with the Pipers scoring a 5-4 overtime victory. Saturday's action will begin with the 2019 third-place game, featuring St. Thomas (25-2-2) against Adrian (23-5-2) at 3:00 p.m. at Saint Thomas Ice Arena in Mendota Heights, Minn., followed by Hamline taking on Plattsburgh State in the national championship game at 7:00 p.m.