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College women's hockey: UMD adds experienced goalie from Mercyhurst

With star goaltender Maddie Rooney playing for the U.S. Women's National Team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team is bringing in a mercenary of sorts to compete for the starting role.

Mercyhurst goaltender Jessica Convery is transferring to the Bulldogs for her senior season after three years with the Lakers. In 33 career games and 27 starts, she boasts a .908 save percentage and 2.18 goals-against average.

She will be eligible to play immediately this fall because the Lakers play in College Hockey America. NCAA Division I women's ice hockey doesn't require student-athletes to sit out a season if they transfer, though the WCHA does require players to do so if they transfer within the league.

"Maddie is coming back in a year so we didn't need a goalie for the long term," UMD coach Maura Crowell said, "but we certainly wanted to add somebody this year just to bolster that position to ensure we had good practices and good depth at the position. For somebody to be looking for transfer in her senior year, the stars lined up really."

Convery, a native of Commerce Township, Mich., majored in sports medicine at Mercyhurst. She's changing her major to biology at UMD and plans to go to graduate school for physical therapy after this season.

Convery started 21 games as a junior while sophomore Sarah McDonnell started 14 games. The year before, McDonnell started 28 games to Convery's six.

In 24 total games in 2016-17, Convery amassed a 2.08 GAA and .911 save percentage while leading the Lakers to a 9-10-1 mark. Convery is 11-14-1 in her career with two shutouts.

The Lakers are coming off a sub-.500 season (15-18-2) after winning the CHA regular-season and postseason titles in 2015-16 and making the NCAA tournament. UMD went 25-7-5 in 2016-17, played for the WCHA postseason title and hosted an NCAA tournament game.

"UMD has a really good team and the coaching staff is awesome," Convery said. "The academics are really good. In general it was a great fit."

The acquisition of Convery gives the Bulldogs three goaltenders for 2017-18 and she'll be the only one with significant collegiate experience.

Sophomore Catherine Johnson of Lakeville, Minn., made just two relief appearances as a freshman, spelling Rooney in a 6-0 win at Ohio State in October and in a shorthanded 8-0 loss to Wisconsin in February. Johnson was perfect in the 27 minutes and 12 seconds she played, stopping all 13 shots she faced.

In addition to Johnson, who was an all-state high school goalie as a senior for St. Paul United in 2015-16, the Bulldogs have incoming freshman Hanna Markel of Dillon, Colo. Markel played this past season with Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"I'm going to push the other goalies and I want them to push me, too," Convery said. "I want to be better and I want to make them better, too."

Rooney, the youngest player on the U.S. Women's National Team, will rejoin the Bulldogs in 2018-19 as a junior with two years of eligibility remaining.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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