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Two former Knights play in Division III Frozen Four
A pair of former Irondale standouts was in upstate New York last weekend for the Division III women’s Frozen Four. Kelsey Barnier closed out her collegiate career at the event while Gillian McDonald reached the midway point of her college hockey life.
Barnier is a senior on the University of St. Thomas women’s hockey team, which was making its first appearance in the Frozen Four. The Tommies went 0-2 on the weekend and finished fourth.
St. Thomas faced a tall order in the national semifinals when it took the ice against top-ranked and Frozen Four host Plattsburgh State. The Cardinals needed extra time but beat the Tommies 1-0 in OT.
Plattsburgh, located in northeast New York state about an hour south of Montreal, went on to win the national championship with a 9-2 throttling of Norwich in the title game.
The loss to Plattsburgh relegated St. Thomas to the third-place game against the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The two teams split a pair of regular-season non-conference games and River Falls won the rubber match on Saturday.
River Falls jumped on St. Thomas early and was never really threatened. The Falcons scored twice in the first half of the first period and increased their lead to three goals with a score early in the second. St. Thomas made it 3-1 three minutes later but River Falls opened the third period with two quick goals to squelch any hope the Tommies had of a comeback.
St. Thomas secured its first-ever Frozen Four berth by beating UW-Stevens Point 5-0 in the national quarterfinals on March 14.
The appearance in the NCAA tournament was the first for St. Thomas since 2003.
Barnier closes out her college career having played 106 games during her four seasons at St. Thomas. Among current players, she is tied for the most games played at St. Thomas with teammate Maria Bothwell.
This season, Barnier scored two goals and had seven assists for nine points. Her most recent point was an assist on the game-winning goal in overtime in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament semifinals against Concordia.
For her career, Barnier has 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points. Last season as a junior, Barnier was named honorable mention all-MIAC.
While at Irondale, Barnier played in the state tournament in 2009 and 2010. In six state-tournament games, she scored four goals and collected one assist. In 2009, the Knights won the consolation championship and a year later they took fourth place.
Among the players on the River Falls roster was one with whom Barnier is especially familiar. Gillian McDonald, a 2012 Irondale graduate, is one of the Falcons’ two back-up goaltenders.
McDonald, who played in the state tournament for Irondale in 2009 and 2010, did not see any playing time at the Frozen Four but made it into seven games this season. She went 4-2 with a save percentage of .882 and a goals-against average of 2.21.
McDonald was a back-up to senior Ashley Kuechle, who played 78 percent of the minutes for the Falcons this season.
Brian Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.