Making history: BSU women reach WCHA semifinals after 4-1 win over St. Cloud State
The Bemidji State women's hockey team will be making its first appearance in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Face-Off after beating St. Cloud State in a best-of-three games playoff series over the weekend.
The Beavers dropped the series opener on Friday night, but bounced back with big wins Saturday and Sunday to eliminate the Huskies.
Sunday's 4-1 victory sends Bemidji State to Saturday's 12:07 p.m. semifinal against Minnesota-Duluth at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. Minnesota and Ohio State will meet in the second semifinal at 3:07. The winners meet for the title Sunday at 12:07.
Bemidji State, a unanimous last-place pick in the preseason coaches poll, is now one of four teams still alive in the hunt for the WCHA tournament championship.
"What a great win for those kids, they played their hearts out tonight," commented head coach Steve Sertich about the team's performance."
Zuzana Tomcikova, who played for Slovakia in the Olympic Games, returned from Vancouver to help the Beavers advance.
Tomcikova turned away 27 shots on Sunday night. The win was her 10th of the season, and the team's 12th. That ties a team record for most wins in a season since the 2001-02 season. It is also the most in a season of Sertich's tenure at BSU.
"It was just a great effort from our team, and it started with Tomcikova in net," Sertich said. "You could tell from the start that she wasn't going to be beat and that makes a big difference."
The teams played a scoreless first period, but St. Cloud State's Caitlin Hogan was called for hooking with 30 seconds left in the first period, which gave BSU a shortened power play to start the second. It only took a little over a minute into the period for Bemidji State to get on the scoreboard. Erin Cody and Keirstin Visser cycled the puck before dishing it off to Annie Bauerfeld, who sniped the puck, ringing it off the crossbar and into the net for her ninth goal of the season and her second of the weekend.
The two sides battled it out for the rest of the period and BSU retired to its locker room with the one-goal lead.
Entering the third period, the Beavers weren't satisfied with a one-goal lead. Bauerfeld chipped the pucked out of the Beaver zone to herself to go on a two-on-two chance with Montana Vichroek. Bauerfeld moved around a St. Cloud State defender and got the puck over on net and the pucked trickled through SCSU netminder Ashley Nixons five-hole sitting just outside the goal line. Vichorek came crashing in to put the puck securely in the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
Just minutes later, Bauerfeld found herself on a breakaway opportunity, but Nixon made the save for the Huskies. However, at the 11:25 mark of the period St. Cloud State scored its first goal of the game to cut the Beaver lead to one.
Capitalizing on a Huskies error, Erin Johnson found herself with the puck after a turnover in front of the St. Cloud State net. Johnson stick-handled across Nixon's left and took a back-hander that went bar down to give the Beavers a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left in the game. Cody added an empty-net goal with two minutes left.