For all the records broken in Saturday's Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinal, nothing shattered quite like the hearts of the Bulldogs.
Bemidji State University etched out a 2-1 win over the No. 9 University of Minnesota Duluth women's hockey team at AMSOIL Arena in the second-longest game in NCAA history, as well as the longest WCHA game ever. The contest, which began at 4:07 p.m. and lasted until 8:57 p.m. was in its entirety four hours and 50 minutes long (4:50) with an on ice time of 128:43 minutes. The game blew past UMD's previous length record of 4:24 set back on March 21, 2010 in the NCAA title game.
"We know that was that was an awesome hockey game, just battling for seven periods, and we gave it our all," said UMD head coach Maura Crowell. "We poured everything into that game and came up short, they got a nice shot off at the end, credit them. Now our focus is just getting ready for tomorrow."
The game began like many UMD games do -- with Gabbie Hughes putting the Bulldogs out front first. Hughes scored 8:48 into the first period, the 50th point of the season for the sophomore center. Anna Klein grabbed the puck out of the corner and skated into the circle to the left of BSU netminder Lauren Bench. Klein's shot found Hughes on the near post, and Hughes would not be denied the final poke through for the 1-0 lead.
BSU added a goal of its own at 11:36 when Reece Hunt lifted an errant puck in the crease over an outstretched Maddie Rooney for the equalizer, summing up a fairly even opening stanza that foreshadowed what was to come.
From there, it was an offensive standstill and a goaltending clinic all in one. BSU led the shots on goal after regulation by a 32-26 margin, but by the end of the night, UMD owned a 71-61 SOG advantage -- including an all-out 45-29 overtime shots lead. In the third overtime (and sixth period overall) alone, UMD outshot BSU a blistering 18-8, and when all was said and done, the Bulldogs finished just one shot shy from tying UMD's highest-ever shots on goal mark of 72 -- set in the inaugural season of the program on Dec. 17, 1999.
UMD's best chance in extra time came 14 minutes into the third overtime in the midst of a heavy Bulldog push when Klein ripped a solo shot that skidded off the crossbar. Unfortunately for UMD, the one shot that eventually landed came in the fourth overtime at the 8:43 mark and overall 128:43 minute of the epic contest. BSU's Reece Hunt found a way past Rooney from the left circle, and after the NCAA's longest game, secured a third game at AMSOIL for Sunday afternoon.
Bench had a BSU record 70 saves on the night for the Beavers, while Rooney, with an incredible 59 stops, was just short of her own UMD record of 62, set back on March 4, 2017 of her sophomore season.
Both teams will hit the ice for a final time tomorrow at AMSOIL to wrap up the league's last outstanding quarterfinal game to determine who will travel to Minneapolis next weekend for the WCHA Final Face-Off. Game-time is set for 4:07 p.m.
BULLDOG NOTES: UMD has now played in 10 overtime games this season, a program record...Saturday night's loss was the first in extra time for the Bulldogs this season...UMD has played its last three games into overtime and has had extra time in four of its last five skates...Gabbie Hughes becomes just the second player in the past eight seasons to amass 50 or more points... Hughes joins former All-American Lara Stalder, who had 23 goals and 33 assists for 56 points in the 2016-17 season...Hughes now has 20 goals and 30 assists in just 33 games.