Women’s Hockey looks to improve upon historic season
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Women’s Hockey looks to improve upon historic season
BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Bemidji State women’s hockey team made history last season claiming its first-ever playoff victories and first-ever trip to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association FINAL FACE-OFF. Finishing the season with a record of 12-19-7 (9-12-7-3 WCHA) the Beavers tied a school record for most conference wins, and finished tied for fifth in the WCHA.

The 2010-11 squad will return the top four scorers from the past two seasons: forwards, Erin Cody, Erin Johnson, Annie Bauerfeld, and defensemen Montana Vichorek. The four combined for 54 percent of the Beaver’s offensive output in the 2009-10 season.

The team will also be returning junior goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova who garnered WCHA Co-Player of the Year and All-WCHA Second Team honors last year after posting a .938 save percentage, while making 795 saves.

Seniors Cody and Bauerfeld will be team captains for the 2010-11 campaign. This will be the second year as captain for Cody.

Bemidji State will return more than 85 percent of its offensive production from the 2009-10 season.

Erin Cody, BSU’s leading goal scorer for the past two years, had another standout season last year lighting the lamp 20 times and picking up 13 assists. Out of her 20 goals scored five came on the power play and two were game-winners. Cody also led the team in shots (156), which was a single-season record. She won WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 9-15 after putting the puck in the back of the net four times, twice on the power play, while also picking up one assist on the weekend.

Along with Cody, seniors Annie Bauerfeld and Erin Johnson were the teams second and third leading goal scorers, respectively. Bauerfeld tallied 27 points last season (9G, 18A). Her 18 assists were good for first on the team. Johnson amassed 18 points (11G, 7A) while missing 10 games due to injury. She led the team in power-play goals (6) and game-winners (4).

The trio of Cody, Bauerfeld, and Johnson will be called upon to lead the BSU offense this year as the three provided for over 40 percent of the total offense last year. They also provided for the majority of the offense on special teams scoring a combined 14 out of a total 18 power play goals. Their production on the power-play will be a key to the success for the Beavers this season.

“We’re lucky to have our top three scorers coming back this season,” said head coach Steve Sertich. “While Cody, Bauerfeld, and Johnson have been our main offensive players for the past few years they’ll need help too. To be successful this year we’ll need everyone to chip in and hopefully we can get some scoring from the younger players as well.”

Other key contributing forwards were redshirt-sophomore Emily Erickson, tacking 15 points last season (6G, 9A), and sophomore Sadie Lundquist, adding another 10 points (2G, 8A).

Also returning for the Beavers at the forward position are junior Lauren Williams, and sophomores MacKenzie Thurston, Molly Arola and Jamie Hatheway.

Newcomers to the Bemidji State forwards include Tess Dusik and Emily McKnight. Both played prep hockey at Balmoral Hall in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The Bemidji State defense saw one of it’s best efforts last season setting a school record for fewest goals against in a season with 98. Leading the Beaver D-Line this year will be junior Montana Vichorek. She was the teams fourth-leading goal-scorer last season after notching five goals and 12 assists. She led all defensemen in points (17) and goals. Vichorek’s efforts did not go unnoticed as she was honored with All-WCHA Third Teams honors following the 2009-10 season.

Also returning for the Beavers on defense are sisters Marlee and Erika Wheelhouse. Marlee returns for her junior year while Erika will be entering her sophomore year. Between the two, they posted 20 assists, 14 by Erika and six by Marlee. On Jan. 13 Erika was named WCHA Newcomer of the Week after posting two assists, blocking nine shots and helping kill off nine penalties against Minnesota State in the Jan. 8-9 weekend series.

“Vichorek, Erika, and Marlee will be our main anchors on defense this year as those three have proven themselves in the league,” commented Sertich. “Vichorek had a tremendous year last season and hopefully she’ll continue to be one of the top defensemen in the league.”

Also returning on the blue line for BSU is junior Kimberly Lieder who picked up four assists last season.

New to the defensive corps for the 2010-11 season are freshmen, Allie Duellman, Alex Ehlert, and Danielle Williams.

Goaltending for Bemidji State has always been a strong point, and juniors Zuzana Tomcikova and Alana McElhinney are keeping the tradition going strong.

Last season the duo combined for the fewest goals allowed in school history (98) and lowest team goals against average (2.54). Tomcikova and McElhinney also combined to post a single-season high seven team shutouts, five by Tomcikova and two by McElhinney.

“It’s a nice problem to have that both goalies have shown that they can play in the league,” Sertich said. “We feel comfortable with both of them in net and we know we can have success if we can limit the back-door plays and keep the shots to the outside.”

After a stellar freshman Tomcikova made an even better sophomore debut season gathering 795 saves on 848 shots. She finished with a .938 save percentage on the season while recording a 2.06 goals against average. She was also nominated for the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Award; an award of The USA Hockey Foundation that recognizes the accomplishments of the most outstanding player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey each season. At the end of the season, Tomcikova was named WCHA Co-Player of the Year and was named to the All-WCHA Second Team.

Tomcikova left the Beavers in February to represent her native country in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver where she played in all five games for the Slovakian National Women’s Ice Hockey Team. In those five games she faced 235 shots on goal, more than any other goaltender, male or female, in the 2010 Winter Games.

During her absence, McElhinney was called upon to help fill the vacancy in net. She played in nine games after Tomcikova left posting a .914 save percentage and a 2.55 goals against average. She recorded her first WCHA win on Feb. 7 when she blanked the then No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers 2-0. She picked up her second WCHA win and second career shutout a week later shutting down North Dakota 1-0.

Also in net for the Beavers is sophomore Jessica Havel who joined the squad last year as a walk-on.

The Schedule
Arguably one of the most exciting things the Beavers are looking forward to this season is playing in its new home at the Bemidji Regional Events Center.

“The players are really excited,” Sertich said. “To have state-of-the-art locker rooms, a lounge, and all the features that come with having a new arena is pretty thrilling.”

However, the team will have to wait a few weeks as they play one exhibition against the Toronto Jr. Aeros on Sept. 24 before starting the 2010-11 season on Oct. 1 when the Beavers head out to Detroit, Mich. where they will face-off against Wayne State University. The following weekend on Oct. 8-10 the Beavers travel to Madison, Wisc. to take-on the Badger in the first conference games of the 2010-11 season.

On Oct. 15 the women’s hockey team will christen the new home arena as they host heavyweights Mercyhurst. The game will be played at 2:07 p.m. and will be the first-ever hockey game played at the Bemidji Regional Events Center. The men’s hockey team will open their home schedule later the same night as they host North Dakota at 7:37 p.m. Mercyhurst and BSU will play again the following day at the BREC.

“It’s going to be an exciting weekend with the men playing North Dakota and us playing Mercyhurst, I think both those teams will be in the top three of the country,” commented Sertich.

After opening the home schedule, the Beavers remain at home for the following four weeks, starting with the Minnesota Whitecaps on Oct. 22-23. The Beavers will host St. Cloud State on Oct. 29-30. Last season BSU ended St. Cloud State’s hopes for a playoff run, beating them in St. Cloud in a best-of-three series in the first round of WCHA Playoffs. Bemidji State then opens November with two home weekends against defending National Champions Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 5-6 and North Dakota on Nov. 11-12.

The Beavers will take a week off before traveling to Ohio State University during Thanksgiving weekend, before returning home to host the Golden Gophers of Minnesota on Dec. 3-4. BSU will then travel to Mankato, Minn. to take on the Mavericks on Dec. 10-11 before going on break for the holidays.

Opening up the new year, Bemidji State will travel to St. Cloud on Jan. 7-8 and to North Dakota on Jan. 15-16. The rest of the season will see the Beavers rotating back-and-forth between home and away series, hosting Minnesota State on Jan. 21-22, heading to Duluth on the following weekend, hosting Wisconsin on Feb. 4-5, traveling to the University of Minnesota on Feb. 11-12, and finally closing the season at home with a series against Ohio State University on Feb. 18-19.

The first round of the WCHA Playoffs are set for the weekend of Feb. 25-27 and will be hosted by the high seed.

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