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Next up, No. 1

The UW-River Falls women's hockey team will play at Gustavus Adolphus Saturday at 2 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

The Falcons, 19-5-3 overall, earned the NCHA's automatic berth into this year's tourney while top-ranked Gustavus earned the MIAC's automatic berth and enters the game with a 22-1-4 record. The two teams played once during the regular season and the Gusties won a 5-3 decision in St. Peter on Jan. 27. Since then the Falcons have won 10 straight games.

"Even though Gustavus is the No. 1 team in the country, we are looking forward to playing them," said Falcon coach Joe Cranston. "They were the last team to beat us, but that was a month and a half ago. We have made a few adjustments that should really help us against them. I know it will be a game of momentum, and we will have to weather the storm at times, but they will too."

UW-RF has five players who have scored 23 or more points this year: Jessica Thompson (9 goals, 21 assists, 30 points), Stefanie Schmitz (13-14-27), Abby Sunderman (15-11-26), Jamie Briski (15-8-23) and Ashly Berner (9-14-23).

The Falcons allow just 1.80 goals per game and are a plus 2.32 in goal differential per game. Goalie Cassi Campbell is 12-2-2 with a 1.89 goals against average and a .931 saves percentage. While goalie Melissa Deardorff is 7-3-1 with a 1.43 goals against average and a .943 saves percentage.

Gustavus is led by Melissa Mackley, who has scored eight goals and 27 points. She leads the team with 19 assists. Jessica Doig is second in scoring with 13 goals and 22 points. Gustavus averages 3.51 goals per game.

Gustavus has played near perfect defense this year and has not allowed a goal in seven straight games. It has allowed only four goals in the team's past 11 games. It allows only 0.69 goals a game.

Goalie Danielle Justice has a 10-1-4 record with a 0.71 goals against average and a .954 saves percentage while goalie Emily Klatt has a 12-0 record with a 0.69 goals against average and a .945 saves percentage. Both have recorded six shutouts.

The three goals the Falcons scored on Jan. 27 are the most by any team against the Gusties this year. Gustavus lost its first game of the season, a 2-1 decision to Adrian, and have been undefeated since then.

Gustavus won the MIAC regular season title with a 16-0-2 record and beat St. Thomas, 3-0, in the MIAC tournament championship game. The Gusties are 13-0-2 at home.

In other first round games, Plattsburgh plays at Amherst and Norwich is at Elmira. The winner of the first round games will advance to the NCAA Frozen Four March 20-21 at Middlebury, Vt. The semifinals will be played March 20 and the finals on March 21.