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The University of Wyoming club hockey team fell one victory shy of qualifying for the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division III National Tournament.
Dordt College of Iowa ended the Cowboys' quest to return to nationals with a 4-0 win late Saturday night at the ACHA Division III Pacific Regional Tournament in Oakland, Calif. The Blades scored three third-period goals to break open a tight game and defeat UW for the second time this season.
The Cowboys (12-8) put themselves in position to reach nationals with a dramatic 3-2 shootout victory Friday night in their regional opener against the U.S. Air Force Academy club squad.
Seniors Graham Barrett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Elliott Bauder (Douglas) scored for UW in regulation play, which ended in a 2-2 tie.
Barrett scored on the Cowboys' first chance in the shootout, but the Falcons responded with a goal of their own.
Six shooters later, UW junior forward David Wells (Rock Springs) found the back of the net to break a 1-1 tie. Then, Cowboy senior goalkeeper Kenny Ainsworth (Casper) stopped Air Force's seventh shooter to clinch the UW victory.
"It was an awesome game, just a really awesome game," says Barrett.
Northern Arizona University (17-5) and Dordt College (22-8), the top two seeds in the eight-team regional, each won a pair of games to advance to the ACHA National Tournament, March 12-15 in Rochester, Minn.
The Pacific Regional's top two teams during the regular season, the University of Northern Colorado (26-0) and San Diego State University (23-1), earned automatic bids to nationals.
The Cowboys, who won the ACHA Division III national championship in 2000-01, have missed qualifying for nationals in three of the past four seasons.
UW plays four of its final six games this season in Wyoming, beginning with a pair of games this weekend against ACHA Division II Montana State University (5-17). The teams meet Friday at the new indoor arena at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds in Douglas and Saturday at the Casper Ice Arena. Both games start at 7 p.m.