Stay for the goalies; two of WCHA’s best on display

Noora Raty and Bemidji State’s Zuzana Tomcikova, respectively, have .950 and .929 save percentages.

Nate Gotlieb

Bemidji State goalie Zuzana Tomcikova is used to carrying her team.

Two years ago when Tomcikova was a freshman, BSU scored just 51 goals and finished 6-25-5. Tomcikova owned a 5-22-4 record but posted a respectable .917 save percentage.

As a sophomore, TomcikovaâÄôs .938 save percentage was good for second in the conference behind MinnesotaâÄôs Noora Raty. Though she earned a 10-11-5 record, she helped the Beavers to a fifth-place finish in the WCHA.

Tomcikova is putting up her usual statistics this season: a .929 save percentage and five shutouts, including one against the Gophers on Dec. 3.

The Gophers scored six goals on Tomcikova the following night, but they understand the challenge she presents.

âÄúSheâÄôs got long legs and a short memory,âÄù head coach Brad Frost said. âÄúSheâÄôs big, sheâÄôs good on her angles, sheâÄôs quick. Bemidji does a really nice job in front of her, as far as allowing her to see pucks.âÄù

Senior Terra Rasmussen says the key to success against Tomcikova is scoring early.

âÄúThe second game when we were up in Bemidji, [that] is what happened,âÄù Rasmussen said. âÄúWe broke her early, broke the team early and so hopefully we can do that again and not take a full game to kind of do that.âÄù

Added junior Jen Schoullis: âÄúItâÄôs just a matter of getting shots through and taking away her eyes.âÄù

But the teamâÄôs forwards arenâÄôt the only ones motivated when facing a top goalie.

Facing a top goalie such as Tomcikova provides an extra incentive for Raty to be at her best, Frost says.

âÄúNoora realizes that theyâÄôre two of the top goalies in our league and in the country, and I think they like to battle it out a little bit,âÄù Frost said.

The Gophers hope to maintain their standing in the WCHA this weekend. With Wisconsin clinching the WCHA regular season title outright last weekend, the battle for second place could come down to the wire.

Minnesota currently sits in second place with 48 points, one ahead of North Dakota. Minnesota-Duluth is just three points further back, with 45.

The Gophers finish the season against North Dakota, whom they were swept by earlier in the season, but they have to get past BSU this weekend.

The Beavers, currently fifth in the conference, own wins over Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and the Gophers. They are in the midst of a four-game losing streak but forced overtime against top-ranked Wisconsin before falling 3-2 last Saturday.

With the Gophers ending the season in North Dakota, this weekend represents the final regular-season home series for seniors Terra Rasmussen, Laura May and Jenny Lura.

âÄúDefinitely senior night will be a lot of emotions, and hopefully we come out with a sweep and donâÄôt have to end our last home series disappointed,âÄù Rasmussen said.