Women’s hockey nets third place finish

Anna Simons

Anna Simons

The SDSU Women’s Hockey Team came up short in their quest for a national title this year. The University of Minnesota-Duluth captured the championship, followed by the runner-up, College of St. Scholastica. SDSU overcame Rainy River Community College in the final round to bring home third place.

SDSU, originally seeded No. 2 in the tournament, played a round robin of three games to vie for a place in the championship game.

The women first faced off against the College of St. Scholastica, the No.-4 seed out of Minnesota.

“We really underestimated them because they were the No.-4 seed and played very poorly at the beginning of the season.” Head Coach Heath Isaacson said.

But St. Scholastica played a lot of games since then and have shown some serious improvement.

“They were a good team. We just came out flat and they pretty much dominated every aspect of the game against us,” Isaacson said.

Club President Christa Friedrich said, “We hadn’t played St. Scholastica this season, and we psyched ourselves out because they had lost so many games. As a team, I don’t think we were ready for them to come out and play as hard as they did. They just jumped on us early and took us by surprise.”

After the disappointing 8-3 loss to St. Scholastica on Friday night, the SDSU women knew they would have fight their way to the championship by winning both of their remaining games on Saturday.

They next faced Rainy River Community College who, according to Friedrich, has been the club’s biggest rival. SDSU had faced this No.-3 seeded team already this year, each time winning by a score of 5-4. Games against Rainy River have always been rough and physical, which makes for a difficult psychological game as well.

“We really had to keep our heads in that game because they are so physical,” Friedrich said. “But we beat them when it counted. They self-destructed by being so rough and catching a lot of penalties.”

Rainy River led early in the game, but SDSU rallied back and ended up winning in the last 23 seconds. Thanks to their cool heads and aggressive play, SDSU once again came out on top of Rainy River.

SDSU’s final match-up before the championship round was against the No.-1 seeded University of Minnesota-Duluth. According to Coach Isaacson, this was the most difficult game of the tournament.

“We knew if we could beat them we were in the championship,” he said.

SDSU controlled most of the game and was leading 3-1 in the third period when UM-D caught hold of a hot streak and sent the game into overtime. SDSU battled hard, but wound up losing by a score of 4-3, the toughest loss of their season. The loss ended the hopes of a national championship.

“We played our hearts out. It was one of those games where we didn’t make any mistakes; we played solid. We just didn’t get the right bounce,” Isaacson said.

While St. Scholastica went on to beat UM-D in the championship game, SDSU once again overcame Rainy River to achieve a 3rd place finish.

“We had higher expectations for ourselves this weekend, but we probably played the best hockey we have all year,” Friedrich said.

Looking ahead to next season, Coach Isaacson is optimistic about returning to the national tournament, which will take place in Chicago. The team isn’t graduating any players this year and he is hoping that everyone on the team will return next season – and bring some friends with them.

Friedrich says that she “would love to get the bench a little deeper for next year.”

Isaacson said anyone interested in playing hockey for the SDSU Women’s Hockey Club next year should visit the club’s Web site at www.geocities.com/sdsuwomenshockey

#1.883678:4168169838.jpg:womenshockeyhuddle.jpg:SDSU’s women’s hockey team huddles together on the ice during the national tournament in Amherst, Mass. The Jackrabbits took third in the tournament, defeating Rainy River for the second time in the tournament.:Courtesy Photo