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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published March 09 2013

Gophers nab WCHA women's hockey title

MINNEAPOLIS – One day after the University of North Dakota women’s hockey team appeared to lock up an NCAA tournament spot, North Dakota is back to scoreboard watching and hoping for help.

Because of an upset in the Hockey East tournament semifinals, UND might still need a little assistance to qualify for the eight-team national tournament.

UND wasn’t able to land the automatic NCAA bid Saturday night as Minnesota ran its unbeaten streak to 46 games with a 2-0 victory in the WCHA Final Faceoff championship game at a sold-out Ridder Arena.

“Life on the bubble makes you anxious,” UND coach Brian Idalski said. “It’s out of our hands now and that’s never a great feeling, but I think we deserve another game.”

UND’s NCAA chances took an unexpected turn Saturday afternoon when Northeastern upset Boston College in the Hockey East semifinals. If Northeastern were to defeat Boston University at noon today in the conference championship, UND’s ability to make the NCAA tournament would take a major hit.

“I’ll be checking it out on the computer, maybe find a webcast,” Idalski said. UND senior Monique Lamoureux said the players were aware of Northeastern’s victory and how that altered the national picture.

“With the Internet, there was no way the girls wouldn’t know going in,” Idalski said. “Northeastern put more pressure on us to win this one.”

In the postgame press conference, Idalski, Lamoureux and Michelle Karvinen each had to pause comments momentarily to fight back emotions when faced with questions about the possibility of the season being over and the program impact of this year’s senior class.

If UND does land an NCAA bid, North Dakota would likely return to Minnesota for a first-round game against the top-seeded Gophers, who are now 38-0-0 on the year after setting an NCAA record for wins in a season with the victory over UND.

“It is what it is,” Lamoureux said. “If this is my last game, this isn’t how I wanted it to end.”

Playing in the program’s first-ever conference championship game, UND (26-11-1) started strong by outshooting the Gophers 7-1 early in the first period.

Shots evened out near the end of the first period and the Gophers took off in the second. Minnesota used a power-play tip by Megan Bozek off an Amanda Kessel shot and a breakaway score by Maryanne Menefee to build a 2-0 lead.

FIRST PERIOD: No scoring.

SECOND PERIOD: 1, M, Bozek (Kessel, McMillen) 4:33. 2, Menefee 6:28.

THIRD PERIOD: No scoring.

SAVES: UND, Amsley-Benzie 10-13-9–32. M, Raty 11-9-10–30.

All-tournament team

UND: Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux

Minnesota: Hannah Brandt, Maryanne Menefee, Megan Bozek, Noora Raty

Tournament MVP: Noora Raty, Minnesota

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald