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Bemidji State women's hockey: Beavers open WCHA playoffs at No. 1 Minnesota

Erin Cody led Bemidji State in scoring this season with 26 points. She leads the Beavers into the first round of the WCHA playoffs today at No. 1 Minnesota. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State women's hockey team will play the role of the underdog in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

Bemidji State finished the regular season last in the WCHA and will head to Ridder Arena to face regular season champion Minnesota in the best-of-three game series beginning today at 6:07 p.m.

Game 2 is Saturday at 4:07 p.m. and Game 3 (if necessary) is Sunday at 4:07 p.m.

The records immediately note the regular season disparity between the two teams.

Bemidji State finished the regular season 6-23-5 overall (3-22-3 WCHA) and Minnesota was 28-3-3 (23-2-3 WCHA).

The Gophers are currently the No. 1 ranked team in women's hockey and were able to win the regular season title by vaulting above Wisconsin in the final two months of the season.

The Gophers enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak while the Beavers are on a three-game losing streak.

Bemidji State has gone through a rollercoaster season while the young group learned how to play together as a team.

The season began with a 1-1-2 record, with the two ties being shootout wins that are not noted in the standings.

The first run through the Association was rough as the Beavers did not win between Nov. 17-Dec. 13. Bemidji State lost seven straight series in a school-record 14-game losing streak.

But Bemidji State returned motivated after the winter break, played better hockey and winning followed.

It started with sweep of Robert Morris on the road to begin the New Year and was followed up by a sweep of Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The four wins was the longest winning streak for the Beavers this season.

Ending that losing streak was Minnesota with two wins over Bemidji State on Jan. 16-17.

It completed the season sweep over Bemidji State. Minnesota won the games by scores of 3-0, 7-0, 5-1 and 11-1.

The Beavers finished out the season after the Minnesota series with a 1-6-2 record, which included four losses between No. 2 ranked Wisconsin and No. 3 ranked Minnesota-Duluth.

The Beavers will need to play strong defense this weekend to have a chance against the high-powered Minnesota offense.

Gigi Marvin may be the senior leader for the Gophers with 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points this season, but she isn't the leading scorer.

The leading scorers are the freshmen twins from Grand Forks: Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux. Monique leads the team in scoring (33-34-67) and Jocelyne is seoncd (34-24-56).

Last year's Ms. Hockey winner and Bemidji High School graduate Sarah Erickson finished with 10 goals and 12 assists in her freshman season.

Bemidji State was led in scoring by three sophomores. Erin Cody led the group with 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points. Erin Johnson was second (9-11-20) and Annie Bauerfeld was third (8-11-19).

One of BSU's biggest stars this season is Zuzana Tomcikova, the freshman goalie from Slovakia who will lead her nation into the Olympic Games next year in Vancouver.

She has the ability to take over any game and she finished with one of the best seasons for a goalie in the 10-year history of the program.

She ended the year first in save percentage (9.19) and in shutouts in a season (3). Tomcikova ranks third in total saves (958) and goals against average (2.99).

Other first round WCHA playoff series are: No. 7 Ohio State at No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 6 North Dakota at No. 3 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 5 Minnesota State University, Mankato at No. 4 St. Cloud State.

Winners advance to the WCHA Final Face-Off at Ridder Arena next Friday and Saturday.