Women’s hockey onto WCHA tournament against No. 5 Minnesota Duluth

With the regular season coming to a close this past weekend, the Minnesota State women’s hockey team now enters the end of season Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament as the fifth seed.

The Mavericks battled with the sixth seeded Bemidji State Beavers over the weekend, which proved to be a pivotal series in setting the standings for the upcoming WCHA tournament. MSU and BSU came into the two-game series one point ahead of each other in tournament seeding, with Minnesota State holding that one point lead. 

All the Mavs needed was a win in regulation on Friday to clinch the fifth seed in the tournament and they did just that. MSU defeated Bemidji 2-0 in the contest which slotted them into facing No. 5 ranked Minnesota Duluth in the first round of the tournament. 

The fifth seed and Duluth were the two outcomes the Mavericks wanted coming into the WCHA tournament, as they would have had to face either No. 4 Wisconsin or No. 2 Ohio State if they would have given up the spot to Bemidji. 

Wisconsin and Ohio State both swept Minnesota State in the season series this year, and would have been tough opponents to take down on away ice. Instead, the Mavericks get the Bulldogs who have taken all but one of the games over the Mavs this season. 

The first two games the two teams played were split on the Mavericks’ home ice, with the Bulldogs taking the first game 0-7 and the Mavericks taking the second 4-2. The teams most recently played in January in Duluth where the Bulldogs won both games by scores of 2-4 and 3-5. 

MSU’s top line of senior Brittyn Fleming, junior Kelsey King, and junior Kennedy Bobyck has been outstanding for the Mavericks as of late. The three forwards are the top scorers on the team up to this point of the season, with Fleming leading the charge. 

Fleming has 16 goals and 24 assists this season for a total of 40 points. Fleming’s one goal and two assists has propelled her into first place in points in a season as a Maverick as well as tied for first is career points at 109 with 2009 graduate Maggie Fisher. 

Following her are King and Bobyck, who fill the sides of Mavs’ first line as wingers. King is second on the team in points at 37 with 16 goals and 21 assists and has an opportunity to also surpass the previous single-season points record this weekend.

Bobyck rounds out the group with 25 points of her own, compiled by nine goals and 16 assists. 

In net the Mavericks have relied on junior Calla Frank for most of the season, but due to injury the Mavs have turned to senior Chantal Burke. Burke entered the lineup for the first time this season in game one against Bemidji State, and collected her first shutout as a Maverick in her first start.

Burke also collected another shutout the night after, saving a total of 47 shots over the weekend. MSU is unsure who will start this weekend in the blue paint, but it sounds more likely than not that Burke will make her third career start as a Maverick. 

The 14-17-1 Mavs will have a tough task against the 22-9-1 Bulldogs this weekend, but are prepared to spoil the Bulldogs’ weekend with two wins and a ticket to the next round of the playoffs. 

Header Photo: Senior goaltender Chantal Burke (41) started her first two games as a Maverick his past weekend in the team’s series against Bemidji State. Burke saved 47 shots and recorded two shutouts to help the Mavs clinch the fifth seed. (Maddie Behrens/The Reporter)

Write to Kole Buelow at kole.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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