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Bemidji State women's hockey: Beavers tie No. 2 Gophers, lose in shootout

Bemidji State's Montana Vichorek (right) and Emily Erickson (left) celebrate Erickson's game-tying goal with 16 seconds left in the third period against Minnesota Friday night at John Glas Fieldhouse. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State women's hockey team walked away smiling despite losing the shootout after a 1-1 tie against No. 2 ranked Minnesota Friday night at John Glas Fieldhouse.

"It was good to play Minnesota tough because they are one of the top teams in the WCHA and we were happy to get the point," Bemidji State sophomore defenseman Montana Vichorek said.

It was a hard fought game for the Beavers, who scored the tying goal with 16 seconds remaining in the third period.

Vichorek blasted a shot from the blue line and Emily Erickson tipped it past Minnesota goalie Noora Räty for her third goal of the season to force overtime.

Alexandra Zebro and Emily West scored on Bemidji State goalie Zuzana Tomcikova to give the Gophers a 2-1 shootout win.

Erin Cody scored the lone goal for the Beavers in the shootout, which ended when Räty stopped Annie Bauerfeld in the fourth round.

The shootout gave a glimpse of what may come at the Olympics next month in Vancouver.

Tomcikova is the starter for Slovakia and Räty is the starter for Finland. The two nations meet on Feb. 17.

Friday's game officially goes down as a tie in the NCAA record books but the shootout winner earns an extra point in the WCHA standings.

The two teams will wrap up the weekend series at 4:07 p.m. Saturday at John Glas Fieldhouse.

Kelli Blankenship scored Minnesota's lone goal in regulation at 4:43 of the second period.

Minnesota (17-3-3 overall, 13-2-2-2 WCHA) was strong defensively and limited Bemidji State's scoring chances throughout the night.

But BSU outshot the Gophers 28-26 and owned the fast-paced final period by outshooting Minnesota 16-11.

The Beavers called a timeout with just over a minute remaining and pulled Tomcikova for the final minute in favor of the extra attacker.

Bemidji State won the key faceoffs in that final minute, which was another big part in the Beavers stealing a point from the Gophers. Bemidji State won the faceoff battle 32-21.

"During that timeout coach (Steve Sertich) gave us an idea what to do and just told us to go out there, try our hardest and give everything we got," Vichorek said. "...The play we scored on just developed on its own. Erika Wheelhouse passed it over to me and I just took the shot."

The Beavers held 2008 Bemidji High School grad Sarah Erickson in check. Erickson, who is sixth in WCHA scoring (12 goals-14 assists-26 points) and plays on Minnesota's top line, was 9-for-19 on faceoffs and had two shots in the game.

Tomcikova stopped Erickson with a leg save in the second round of the shootout.

Bemidji State's record now stands at 7-11-5 overall, 6-6-5-3 in the WCHA.

The Beavers stand fourth place in the WCHA standings with 20 points and are four points ahead of fifth place Ohio State.

If the season ended Friday, the Beavers would host a first-round WCHA playoff series at John Glas Fieldhouse. Should the Beavers host a playoff series, it would be a first in the history of the program and it would likely mark the final hockey games at John Glas Fieldhouse.

The Beavers are only one point out of the second place tie with Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin at 21 points.

The Gophers lead the WCHA with 30 points.

"That's why tonight's game was good for us because we want to catch up to that second place tie," Vichorek said. "UMD and Wisconsin play each other yet this season so if we can keep playing well, we could finish the season in second or third place."