After a midseason slump, the team made a respectable playoff run
Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
Junior forward Cristina Masten leads the team in scoring with 24 goals and 13 assists for a total of 37 points of the season. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Andrew Reynen/BU Sports Information
After advancing two games into the MIAC playoffs, the women’s hockey team was defeated Feb. 28 in the semifinal game against the Gustavus Gusties, a powerhouse team yet to lose in conference.
However, the Royals (11-5-2 MIAC) didn’t go down without a fight. Having won its first playoff game against St. Catherine University, the team took an early lead against the Gusties and controlled the majority of the game before falling apart in the third period, ending in a 2-3 loss.
Although the Royals made an impressive run, their campaign didn’t begin as smoothly as the second half of the season ended. At the end of December, the team was finishing up a tough stretch in its schedule and was just over the .500 mark.
“We had a very difficult schedule in the first half of our season,” said head coach Brian Carlson. “We had some tough competition, which was really good for us. We ended up where we wanted to be.”
The squad took a hiatus from conference play and began 2013 in Europe, traveling the continent and playing three games against professional and national teams during their nine-day trip. The Royals jumped right back into conference play upon their return to the States, but they were still feeling the effects of their trip overseas.
“You can never be 100 percent sure how the team is going to react to a trip like that, but there was some recovery time involved,” Carlson said. “There is no question that it took a toll on us.”
Although the trip had adverse effects on the team’s physical condition, junior forward Cristina Masten said the trip brought the team much closer as a unit.
“The best part about it was the chemistry that came out of this trip,” Masten said. “Not only were we able to see things that many people don't get to see, but we were able to do it with our teammates. That made the trip even more unforgettable.”
The Royals dropped their first three games after the break, but it didn’t take long for them to find their stride. They played their best hockey of the year to close out the regular season, winning six straight games in the final stretch.
According to Carlson, a monumental win against St. Thomas helped get the team on the right track.
Coupled with a successful series against Concordia, a conference leader, the Royals’ win against the Tommies helped propel them upward in the standings and proved that they could compete with any MIAC team.
“The six-game winning streak showed that we peaked at the right time,” Carlson said. “Our goal was to be a playoff team, and we achieved that and gave ourselves a crack at a run to the NCAA tournament.”
Masten attributed the late-season momentum to the chemistry the team has been building on and off the ice throughout the year.
“The key for our team throughout the last part of the season has been how well we have been playing as a unit,” Masten said. “We just really came together with everyone making big contributions.”
Carlson also gives much of the credit to the five seniors on the team. Biz Huss, Molly Eagles, Sarah Kartak, Kate Wahlin and Jess Newstrom have showcased the experience that Carlson said is crucial to the team’s performance.
Besides strong leadership, the team also depends on young talent. Masten was selected twice for the MIAC Women’s Hockey Athlete of the Week award, and junior Lindsay Burman was an All-Conference selection. Freshmen Caroline Kivisto and Erika Allen were also selected for the MIAC All-Rookie team.
With all the individual accolades and contributions from players who will return next season, Carlson is excited about the team’s future.
“Our level of intensity is key for us,” Carlson said. “We rely a lot on our goaltending and scoring. When we pressure, we’re a hard team to beat.”