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WOMEN'S COLLEGE HOCKEY: Wisconsin's Wellhausen nets hat trick to defeat BSU in WCHA Final Faceoff

Bemidji State sophomore Heather Olson (20) controls the puck amongst a group of University of Wisconsin skaters Saturday, March 3, during a WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal game at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. (Maggi Stivers| Special to Forum News Service) 1 / 2
Bemidji State senior Alexis Joyce (22) battles with University of Wisconsin’s Abby Roque (18) Saturday, March 3, during a WCHA Final Faceoff semifinal game at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis. (Maggi Stivers | Special to Forum News Service) 2 / 2

MINNEAPOLIS—Bemidji State held its own for much of their Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Faceoff semifinal game Saturday afternoon, March 3, but ultimately Wisconsin showed why it holds the No. 1 ranking in the nation and defeated the Beavers 4-1 at Ridder Arena.

The Beavers finish the season with a record of 16-19-3 overall and 9-13-2 in the WCHA.

"To me, it was one of our more enjoyable years," BSU head coach Jim Scanlan said. "Nothing to do with the record, it was all about the 25 young women in the program... Every single day, coming to the rink with this group was enjoyable. We'd have a tough loss one night, and they'd be there the next day just having a ball with smiles on their faces. It was fun. You get to this point, you know it's win to survive, so it's always hard when it comes to an end."

The game was an uphill battle for the Beavers from the 41-second mark and on.

A BSU miscue in the defensive zone led to Baylee Wellhausen being left alone in front, where Abby Roque found her for a five-hole goal.

"What can you do?" Scanlan said of the first-minute score. "You just say it's early in the game, we've seen it before, and I thought the response was pretty good."

After the Beavers were limited to low-quality shots and chances through the majority of the first frame, Wisconsin's Mikaela Gardner took a hooking penalty late to give them the opportunity they needed.

A puck slid from Paige Beebe to Emily Bergland to Emma Terres at the point, and Terres made her shot count, finding the left corner of the net behind Wisconsin goalie Kristen Campbell.

The goal gave BSU a spark after playing from behind for nearly the whole period.

"They scored right off the bat, but after that we kept playing our game, and scoring at the end of the first period, you get your hopes up and everyone is excited in the locker room," Terres said.

Halfway through the middle period, Wisconsin was caught with six skaters on the ice, giving the Beavers another power play with a chance at a lead. But the Badgers had other plans.

Wisconsin won the ensuing faceoff, and Roque passed to Wellhausen, who had worked her way behind the Beavers' defense for a breakaway, and she whipped a shot by Kerigan Dowhy for the short-handed goal and a 2-1 lead at the 11:06 mark.

Bemidji State went into the third down a goal with one period to play and the season on the line, but senior Alexis Joyce said they didn't feel outmatched by the nation's best.

"We are very confident in ourselves," she said. "We know they are a very good team and we obviously respect that, but we also respect ourselves and know that we have talent in our own locker room. We were absolutely ready for this game and had no doubts in ourselves."

The third period was a back-and-forth battle the whole way, but once again, the Badgers were the team to find the back of the net when Maddie Rolfes scored from a bad angle at the 10:45 mark for the two-goal lead.

The Beavers took another turn on the power play with 3 minutes, 7 seconds remaining. 30 seconds in, Scanlan took a timeout and pulled Dowhy for a 6-on-4 advantage.

BSU had a few good shots on Campbell, but she stood solid for all of them. With 30 seconds left, Wellhausen buried an empty-netter to seal her hat trick and cap off the score at 4-1.

"I'm proud of my group's efforts," said Scanlan. 'We certainly gave ourselves a chance. You go into the third period down 2-1 to this team, you're only one shot away, and that was our mindset.

"We certainly had some chances that looked like if it hit the stick right, who knows, maybe it would go by her. That's hockey. I liked the way our team played. We gave ourselves a great chance, but going up against a team like this, you certainly have to take advantage of the opportunities you get."

In the other semifinal matchup, third-seeded Minnesota upset No. 2 Ohio State 2-0. The Badgers and Gophers will meet at 2:07 this afternoon in the WCHA Championship at Ridder Arena.