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Bemidji State women beat St. Cloud in decisive third game, move on in WCHA playoffs

Bemidji State goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova watches the puck in Sunday night's WCHA playoff game against St. Cloud State.

Bemidji State, a unanimous last-place pick in the preseason coaches poll, is one of four teams that remains 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. "It was just a great effort from our team and it started with Tomcikova in net. You could tell from the start that she wasn't going to be beat and that makes a big difference."

Bemidji State now advances to the WCHA Final Face-Off scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, March 6-7, at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. The Beavers will meet No. 1-seeded Minnesota Duluth at noon on Saturday. Minnesota and Ohio State will face off in the second game at 3 p.m. The winners play Sunday for the WCHA playoff championship.

Zuzana Tomcikova (So., G., Bratislava, Slovakia) had another great performance in net for the Beavers turning away 27 shots. The win is her 10th of the season, and the teams 12th. The 12 wins 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.

St. Cloud State started out of the gates with a lot more jump to its stride than the Beavers, taking over the play of the game early on. It took a while, but BSU found its stride and kept up with the pace keeping it scoreless after the first period.

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 (Jr., For., Roseville, Minn.) and Keirstin Visser (Fr., Def., Crapuad, Prince Edwards Island) cycled the puck before dishing it off to Annie Bauerfeld (Jr., For., Woodbury, Minn.) who was sitting near the left face-off dot. Bauerfeld sniped the puck ringing it off the crossbar and down for her ninth goal of the season, and her second of the weekend.

The two sides would battle it out for the rest of the period and BSU would retire 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 (So., Def., Moose Lake, Minn.). Bauerfeld toe-dragged around a St. Cloud State defender and got the puck over on net and the pucked trickled through SCSU netminder Ashley Nixons five-whole 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 found their first goal of the game to cut the Beaver lead to one.

Capitalizing on a Husky error, Erin Johnson (Jr., For., Farmington, Minn.) 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 would later score an empty-net goal with 2 minutes left in the game to secure the win for the Beavers.

Annie Bauerfeld had four points (2G, 2A) in the two wins over the Huskies. Bauerfeld led the team in points over the weekend followed by Montana Vichorek who had three points (1G, 2A) on the weekend.

The win marks the second time in conference playoff history that a team came back to win a three-game series after losing the first game. The first team to do this was Minnesota State University, Mankato when they beat St. Cloud State in St. Cloud in the 2008-09 season.