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College women's hockey: Beavers oust Bulldogs with Game 3 upset

For the second consecutive season, the Minnesota Duluth women's hockey program saw its season cut short via a heartbreaking postseason loss at Amsoil Arena.

T02.25.2018 -- Steve Kuchera -- 022618.S.DNT.UMDwpuxC3 -- Bemidji State's Jacqueline Kaasa and Duluth’s Catherine Daoust collide in front of UMD goalie Jessica Convery during the first period of Sunday’s game at Amsoil Arena. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
T02.25.2018 -- Steve Kuchera -- 022618.S.DNT.UMDwpuxC3 -- Bemidji State's Jacqueline Kaasa and Duluth’s Catherine Daoust collide in front of UMD goalie Jessica Convery during the first period of Sunday’s game at Amsoil Arena. Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com
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For the second consecutive season, the Minnesota Duluth women's hockey program saw its season cut short via a heartbreaking postseason loss at Amsoil Arena.

The only difference between this year and last was the 2016-17 team was ousted from the first round of the NCAA tournament, while the 2017-18 Bulldogs saw their season end Sunday in the first round of the WCHA playoffs via a 3-0 loss to Bemidji State in front of 555 at Amsoil Arena.
"We got off to a slow start in the beginning, and that hurt us in the end," said third-year Bulldogs coach Maura Crowell, who had guided UMD to the WCHA semifinals in each of her first two. "I liked the way we came back for the second and the third. The momentum seemed to be in our hands. We just couldn't find the back of the net and unfortunately couldn't get it done."

The fifth-seeded Beavers (16-18-3) - who won the best-of-three series 2-1 with wins in Games 1 and 3 - took a 1-0 lead over the fourth-seeded Bulldogs (15-16-4) midway through the first period when junior center Emily Bergland slipped a puck past UMD senior goaltender Jessica Convery.

Bemidji road that one-goal lead until the final minutes of the third when sophomore wing Haley Mack, shielded by congestion in front of the Bulldogs' crease, was able to slide a puck to the far post to put the Beavers up 2-0.

Senior wing Bailey Wright later skated a puck into the empty net to seal the Bulldogs' fate.

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Freshman goaltender Kerigan Dowhy - who entered the series with four career starts before playing all three games this weekend - finished with 24 saves to earn her first collegiate shutout.

"I thought we had a great start. Obviously getting that goal was huge in the beginning," said Beavers coach Jim Scanlan. "Now you get a lead and the team with a lead can be pretty daunting.

"Kerigan came up with some big stops for us. It was just a total team effort. I'm really proud of the group."

Coming off a 4-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday, the Bulldogs got off the a slow start in the decisive Game 3 on Sunday that was played before a pro-Beavers crowd despite being in Duluth.

Bemidji State outshot the Bulldogs 8-3 in the opening 10 minutes, and it wasn't until the second period that UMD flipped the momentum back in its favor.

The Bulldogs had two chances to tie the game on the power play at 4:48 of the second and 1:19 of the third, but came up empty both times. UMD finished 0-for-2 Sunday and 1-for-6 in the series on the power play.

UMD entered the postseason with a power play that was fifth best in the country and tops in the WCHA at 23.9 percent.

"It just seemed like we were fighting it," Crowell said. "The bounces weren't coming our way. Pucks are bouncing off our stick that we handled cleanly (Saturday), no problem. I wouldn't say we were fatigued. We had plenty in the tank at the end there when we were making a push. I just think Bemidji was better than us and played a more consistent 60 minutes."

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The Beavers will play Wisconsin at 2 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals of the WCHA Final Faceoff at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. The host Minnesota Golden Gophers play Ohio State at 5 p.m., with the championship the next day.

This is the Beavers first appearance in the Final Faceoff since 2015 when they also upset the Bulldogs in three games at Amsoil Arena. That was coach Shannon Miller's final season at UMD before Crowell took over.

Crowell took the Bulldogs to the WCHA semifinals in her first season, sweeping the Beavers in Bemidji in an upset. Last year UMD reached the Final Faceoff championship where it lost to Wisconsin.

Crowell hopes this defeat proves to be a learning experience for a program that played eight freshmen and five sophomores this season.

"When you come in and have such a successful year as a freshman, you think, 'Oh, we do this every year. That's just the way it is,'" Crowell said. "Then you learn no, it's a lot of work. That's what we talked about in the locker room."

Bemidji State 1-0-2-3
Minn. Duluth 0-0-0-0

First period - 1. BSU, Emily Bergland 11 (Haley Mack), 10:51.

Second period - No scoring.

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Third period - 2. BSU, Mack 4 (Kiki Radke, Reilly Fawcett), 17:24; 3. BSU, Bailey Wright 5 (Emily Bergland, Alexis Joyce), 18:56 (en).

Saves - Kerigan Dowhy, BSU, 6-9-9-24; Jessica Convery, UMD, 12-5-5-22.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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