Going into playoffs, the Hamline’s Women’s Hockey team had already set records. Placing third in the regular season, the Pipers had the best finish in the team’s history with a regular season record of 18-4-3. After beating Augsburg 4-1 in the MIAC playoffs semifinals Hamline was to face Gustavus Adolphus for the Championship game.
When they got to Gustavus there was a lot going through the players’ heads. Hamline senior Melanie Bartenstein described the locker room emotions saying, “We were both excited and nervous. The whole team was really trying to get pumped.” This excitement showed on the ice, as only five minutes into the game the Pipers were able to establish a lead which they went on to maintain throughout the entire game despite pressure from Gustavus Adolphus.
When the clock hit zero and the team knew they had just won their first ever MIAC championship game, everyone was excited. First-ear Barret Boyer, who had been injured in the semifinal game, described what happened from her perspective, “All I could think was holy crap we just won. People were crying and hugging it was amazing.”
But the victory did not just happen out of nowhere. There was a lot that went into making the best season in history end in a championship win. Boyer and Bartenstein both give credit to Head Coach Natalie Darwitz.
Bartenstein, one of only two players on the team to have played before Coach Darwitz arrived, said “She expects a lot from us. She keeps pushing us to be competitive and be our best. Plus she in a lot of really good players through recruiting.”
Darwitz, on the other hand, gives credit to the team’s culture.
“We are a newer program so right now we are just starting to see what we are creating. And it’s great to be able to build it from the ground up. Right now we are really seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Darwitz.
Another major factor in the season has been the TRIA rink in downtown St. Paul. Darwitz described how the rink helped the team.
“It’s new and that gets you excited to play in it. It’s like if you got a new kitchen, you’d want to go cook. The team is just excited to play in it… It’s one of the nicest facilities around.”
The rink’s effects were seen as the team was undefeated at home after moving into the new facility.
While the MIAC season is over, Hamline’s team isn’t done yet. They were able to beat Gustavus Adolphus in the 4-1 game they advanced into the NCAA playoffs.
“We’re not done, we want a national championship title… We are all still hungry for more,” said Boyer.
The team returned to Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday Mar. 10 for the NCAA quarterfinals, this time playing against Eau Claire for a position in the Frozen Four. Hamline was yet again able to pull off a win in a 3-2 victory and is now headed to the semifinals against Norwich University on Friday Mar. 16. The greatest season in history just keeps going and the team isn’t planning on stopping until they have won it all.