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Bemidji State women's hockey team sets best mark, but falls short of goal

With a 17-17-3 overall record, the Bemidji State women's hockey team achieved its best record in program history, but the season ended after losing a playoff series to North Dakota last weekend.

With a 17-17-3 overall record, the Bemidji State women's hockey team achieved its best record in program history, but the season ended after losing a playoff series to North Dakota last weekend.

"It's a little bittersweet," Bemidji State head coach Steve Sertich said. "The fact that we didn't advance to the WCHA Final Face-Off was disappointing, but record-wise it was a good season."

BSU's 11-15-2 record in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association earned sixth place in the regular-season standings.

The Beavers were led by standout senior goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova. She finished with more than 1,000 saves and four shutouts on the season.

"She had another amazing year," Sertich said of his Slovakian goaltender. "It was incredible how consistently good she was. She broke so many records this year, it was a terrific end to an amazing career."

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The Beavers will lose six seniors from this year's team. Those seniors are Tomcikova, fellow goaltender Alana McElhinney, Kimberly Lieder, Lauren Williams, Marlee Wheelhouse and Montana Vichorek.

"Numbers wise and Skills-wise it has been our top class since I have been here," Sertich said. "It is going to be a tough group to replace, especially at goalie."

BSU will have a lot of young experienced players next season as well, with 14 freshmen on this year's squad.

"Kristin Huber, Natasha Kostenko and Whitney Wivoda all had very good freshman seasons," Sertich said. "They all made progress as the year went on and all played in big minutes for us."

Sadie Lunquist led the Beavers in points with 35, with 12 goals and 23 assists. Emily Erickson followed with 32 points and a team-leading 17 goals. Both will return next season as seniors.

"Everybody has to get a little quicker or a little stronger," Sertich said. "The commitment to getting quicker and stronger in the offseason will be a challenge to them and all of our other returning players."

BSU's season was highlighted by its five wins over ranked opponents including a 2-1 win over No. 2 Minnesota at home on Oct. 29.

With the five wins against ranked opponents also came the 10 losses to ranked opponents, including a winless stretch of seven games all against ranked opponents from late January into February.

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"I always say it is a blessing and a curse," Sertich said of playing in the WCHA. "Anytime that you can compete against the top players in the world is exciting and challenging. At the same time, it is tough to make progress."

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