No WCHA Title This Year
Grand Forks, ND (gophersports.com) - The Golden Gopher women's hockey team suffered just its third loss of the season as No. 2 Minnesota fell to No. 10 Bemidji State, 1-0, in the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF semifinal round Saturday afternoon at Ralph Engelstad Arena.
BSU's Stephanie Anderson broke a scoreless tie with 8:14 to play on a solo effort. She gained possession off a turnover in the neutral zone and carried the puck into the Minnesota zone. Anderson got a shot off as she was pulled down, and it snuck past goaltender Amanda Leveille (Kingston, Ont.).
Despite outshooting the Beavers 37-18, Minnesota could not solve BSUnetminder Brittni Mowat for the second time this season. The Gophers fall to2-2-1 against Bemidji State (21-16-1) this season, including two 1-0 losses.
"It's frustrating when you don't score," head coachBrad Frost said. "Pucks have to go in if you want to win the game. We've lost three games all year and we were shut out in all three."
Minnesota (31-3-4) entered the WCHA FINAL FACE-OFF as three-time defending champions and failed to advance to the league title game for the first time since 2001. The Gophers had secured 13-straight league champion or runner-up finishes.
The teams were scoreless after two periods. Junior Maryanne Menefee (Lansing, Mich.) nearly put the Gophers on the board late in the first period when she redirected a shot in the slot, but it skimmed off the post.
"When we came in after the first, I know we felt pretty good about it," Frost said. "Maryanne hits a post there, and if we're up 1-0, we'd think it's a great period, but instead it's 0-0. We had some chances there but certainly would've loved to gotten out to a lead."
The Gophers had a 27-11 advantage in shots on goal after two periods, but Mowat held them off. Minnesota generated two shots on its first power play of the game late in the second but could not solve the BSU netminder.
The Gophers had quality scoring opportunities to tie the game after BSU took the 1-0 lead, including a shorthanded opportunity by Brandt and a flurry of shots on the power play by Brandt, Rachel Ramsey (Chanhassen, Minn.) andLee Stecklein (Roseville, Minn.) in the last five minutes.
"It's about trying to create offense from different spots on the rink," Frost said of playing against teams like Bemidji State. "I thought we at times panicked with the puck tonight, trying to throw some things out front. Really, we generated our best opportunities when we used our defensemen and got them involved. There were times we were able to do that, and other times we weren't able to get things through."
Minnesota pulled Leveille for an extra attacker over the final 1:24, but the Beavers did not let any shots through as Kaitlyn Tougas and Summer Thibodeau blocked attempts by Ramsey. BSU blocked 18 total shots in the game.
The Gophers will learn their NCAA tournament fate during the NCAA selection show at 6 p.m. CT Sunday. The eight-team NCAA tournament field and four quarterfinal matchups will be announced live on NCAA.com.