LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Midland University’s women’s hockey team clinched their first-ever trip to the ACHA Women’s DI National Tournament over the weekend by winning the WWCHL Postseason Tournament. The Warriors were the second-seed coming into the Women’s Western Collegiate Hockey League and after winning their pool, they beat Arizona State University in the semifinals late Saturday night and then edged top-seeded University of Colorado in double-overtime of the championship game.
On the first day of the tournament, Midland put in three third period goals to get past Colorado State University in the opener. They then steam-rolled University of Denver 8-1 to clinch the top-seed from their pool.
Savannah Wright, Tieryn Arens and Robin Hatcher each scored against CSU while Hailey Huff picked up the win in net, stopping 24 shots.
Against the Pioneers, Isabelle Uhl-Chmiel scored twice while Kelsey Beebe, Ally Conybear, Mylie Ketterson, Kamryn Hayhurst, Hatcher and Arens all added one goal. Huff again picked up the win with 17 saves between the pipes.
Midland scored two first period goals and then added another midway through the second on their way to a 3-0 win over ASU in the semifinals. The Warriors and Sun Devils played a physical game with each side picking up their fair-share of penalties. Scoring for Midland was Wright, Hayhurst and Beebe while McKenna Gehner earned the 22 save shutout win.
In the championship it was Colorado who struck first with a goal near the end of the first period. However Midland would respond by and tied the game just past the midpoint of second on a goal by Mackenzie Bertolas.
After playing even to end the 2nd and start the 3rd, the Buffaloes pulled ahead at the 4:09 mark. Durin that goal Midland not only would go down a point on the scoreboard, they would also lose one of their offensive weapons in Uhl-Chmiel, who was whistled for a 10-minute unsportsmanlike penalty.
Playing without the leading scorer in program history for half of the final period, Midland did their best to hold the Buffs at bay while getting a few good looks themselves. After coming out of the penalty box, Uhl-Chmiel reenergized her teammates and with time winding down it was Arens once again coming up with a big goal, evening the score with 2:18 left to play.
After neither team could push home the game-winner in regulation or the first five minute overtime period, the game was sent to double overtime. In the second extra session Midland had a great scoring chance near the two minute mark. Arens was skating in on a 2-on-1 breakaway and after her shot was stopped by the CU goalie, the Buffaloes defender sent her into the boards.
Arens was clearly shaken up on the play as the Midland training staff came to assist her off the ice. That play also resulted in a five-minute major penalty on one of the Buffs’ standouts for boarding. A little over a minute later of game action later it was Bertolas finding the back of the net for the second time to clinch the title for the Warriors.
The 3-2 victory in double-overtime not only gave Midland their first-ever conference championship in women’s hockey, it also game them the WWCHL’s auto-bid for Nationals.
Bertolas, who had two goals in the title game, was named the tournament’s most valuable player. She was also named to the all-tournament team along with teammates Uhl-Chmiel, Conybear, and Gehner.
Uhl-Chmiel finished with two goals and an assist while Conybear had one goal and three assists. Gehner was in goal for two wins, stopping a total of 40 shots while allowing just two goals in nearly 128 minutes in net.
The WWCHL also announced All-Conference selections for play throughout the regular season. Uhl-Chmiel, Conybear and Gehner all earned that honor as well.
Up next for Midland will be a healthy amount of rest before gearing up for the ACHA Nationals. The Women’s DI Tournament will be held March 27-31 in Frisco, Texas at the Dr. Pepper Arena. Frisco is located within the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. For more information on the ACHA National Tournament, click here.