Falcons hockey defeat Gusties in overtime thriller
February 8, 2023
The UW-River Falls women's hockey team hosted the Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties on Jan. 31 in a battle for supremacy over the league. The Falcons, riding a ten-game win streak, had outscored their opponents 66-7 since Dec. 10. The league took notice, and on Jan. 30, River Falls was decisively ranked no. 1 in the USCHO Division III Women's Poll and officially became the team to catch. The Gusties came in behind the Falcons, rated at no. 2, and looking to pull off a road upset.
The Falcons opened period one fiery on offense, putting four shots on goal in the first 3:30. The Gusties soon responded and carried out their own offensive strike. Falcons Goalie Sami Miller and Gusties Goalie Katie McCoy were busy in the first period, each blocking 10 shots from the opposition. A defensive battle was waged, and the first period ended 0-0.
The Gusties held their same defensive formula in the second period but found themselves on a five-on-three power play with 8:44 left. Gustie Forward Kaitlyn Holland put it through senior goalie Sami Miller, and the Gusties took a 1-0 lead with 8:14 remaining. The Falcons put nine shots on goal but failed to score through the second period.
Mid-way through the final period, the Falcons still trailed by one. The Gusties played defensively down the stretch, putting no shots on goal for the first 11 minutes. The Falcons took advantage, and with only 8:35 to play, freshman defender MaKenna Aure raced down the ice and evened the score at 1-1.
Hunt Arena flared into a roar as fans let out cheers of joy and relief from a possible shutout. Aure leads all Falcon defenders with nine goals on the season. Both teams held each other off for the remainder of the third period, and Hunt Arena reset.
Into overtime, the Gusties struggled on offense and only managed to put one shot on goal next to three for the Falcons. Neither team could find an opening early, and each defense held its own. As the clock wound down under ten seconds, Falcons Forward Abigail Stow found herself on a breakaway from the defense. She lifted the puck and the Falcons into victory and was immediately mobbed by her teammates.
The Falcons improved to 19-2, and the Golden Gusties dropped to 16-3. Both teams remain primary contenders for the NCAA Division III tournament this year, but it's officially championship or bust for the Falcons.