By Kelly Grgas Wheeler
After having faced each other a program record eight times over the course of the season, the University of Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State University exhausted its rivalry Sunday in game three of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association first round playoffs.
With neither team winning back-to-back series games against each other all season, the trend continued as the Beavers handed the Bulldogs a 3-0 defeat at AMSOIL Arena to end UMD’s season before the WCHA playoff semifinals for only the second time in program history. BSU will make its first trip to the WCHA Final Faceoff since 2015 and will face the University of Wisconsin next Saturday at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Beavers snuck a puck past UMD senior goaltender Jessica Convery at 10:51 of the first period, and despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts, UMD would never overcome that deficit.
Senior forward Michelle Lowenhielm> caught a crossbar with 10 minutes left in regulation, but pucks never did bounce in UMD’s favor Saturday. BSU doubled its lead at 17:24 of the third period after Haley Mack wheeled and put the puck past traffic and inside the far post for a 2-0 Beaver lead.
The Bulldogs pulled Convery with a little under two minutes left to play, but the result was a goal by Bailey Wright with 1:04 remaining that permanently sealed UMD’s postseason fate.Convery made 22 saves while BSU’s Kerigan Dowhy earned her first career shutout with 24. BSU outshot the Bulldogs by a single shot (25-24), but held UMD’s league-leading power play scoreless in two attempts. BSU improves to 16-18-3 on the season and advances past UMD in the first round for just the second time in school history. All-time, UMD is now 9-4 against the Beavers in WCHA postseason play.
“When I talk about that senior class, I think about work ethic, they are the perfect example of that,” said UMD head coach Maura Crowell about her seniors following the game. “If you want to have success like they’ve had in their careers — they were a big part of last year’s NCAA run and getting us to this point this year — there’s a lot more you can be doing as a young player. That’s not a knock on young players, there’s just a lot that goes into gaining experience as a player that these seniors have.”
The Bulldogs finish the season 15-16-4 overall and will lose the services of seven seniors to graduation — forward Lynn Astrup, goaltender Jessica Convery, defensemen Catherine Daoust, Jessica Healey, Linnea Hedin, and Lowenhielm, as well as forward Katerina Mrázová. Lowenhielm skated in her 144th game as a Bulldog Sunday, putting her in a three-way tie in ninth for career games played.
Source: UMD Athletics