BEMIDJI, Minn. - Bemidji State University head women’s hockey coach Steve Sertich announced the schedule for the upcoming 2011-12 season Friday afternoon. Bemidji State’s schedule boasts seven nonconference meetings and 28 Western Collegiate Hockey Association games. The 2011-12 slate features 16 games at Sanford Center including 14 contests within the WCHA, which remains the nation’s premier women’s hockey conference having accounted for every NCAA Division I women’s hockey championship in the sport’s 11-year NCAA history.
“I always say it is a curse and a blessing to play in the WHCA,” Sertich said. “We know every weekend is going to be a challenge no matter who you are playing or where you are playing. The entire league is extremely competitive and I’m sure this year will be a battle just like every other year has.”
The 35-game regular-season slate will hit the ice Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 as the Beavers welcome Providence College to Bemidji for the first time to begin their second season at Sanford Center. Coach Bob Deraney led Providence College to a 22-12-1 mark and a No. 9 ranking in the final USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Women’s College Hockey Poll. The face-off is slated for 7:07 p.m. at Sanford Center Friday and 4:07 p.m. Saturday.
“Providence is a perennial powerhouse out east,” Sertich said. “They have a great goaltender in Genevieve Lacasse and have done well in recent years. I expect them to be a very good team even at the beginning of the year when they come to Bemidji.”
The Beavers open their conference schedule Oct. 7 and 8 in Columbus, Ohio against the Buckeyes of Ohio State University. Ohio State is coming off a 14-19-3 mark last season and a sixth place finish in the final WCHA standings. The Buckeyes will be guided by Nate Handrahan, the former head coach at Robert Morris University, who takes over for Jackie Barto who retired after 12 years at the helm of the program. The Beavers went 1-1-2 against the Buckeyes during the 2010-11 campaign.
Oct. 14 and 15 BSU heads to the Pine Tree State Oct. 14 and 15 to face the University of Maine for the first time since 2006. The Black Bears are coming off a 12-17-5 mark on the 2010-11 season.
“Maria Lewis, who used to be an assistant coach at the University of North Dakota, did a nice job there in her first season,” Sertich said. “It is going to be a long trip out to Maine. It will be interesting to see how our team responds to that road trip.
BSU’s next conference tussle marks the WCHA home opener for the Beavers as they welcome St. Cloud State University Oct. 21 and 22. The contests will both commence with 2:07 p.m. puck drops. The Huskies are coming off a 1-33-1 record and a last place finish in the WCHA. The Beavers were 4-0 against the Huskies last season.
BSU remains at home the next weekend as it welcomes the University of Minnesota to the First City on the Mississippi Oct. 28 and 29. Both games are scheduled for 7:07 p.m. starts at Sanford Center. The Golden Gophers went 26-10-2 during the 2010-11 season finishing in a tie for second place in the conference. Minnesota lost in the regionals of the NCAA tournament to Boston College, 4-1. The Beavers were 1-3 versus the U of M in last year’s campaign.
The Beavers will hit the road for a five-game swing beginning Nov. 4 and 5 in Mankato, Minn. against Minnesota State University. The Mavericks went 8-25-3 in Eric Means’ second season at the helm finishing in seventh place in the WCHA standings. BSU went undefeated with three wins and a tie versus Minnesota State during the 2010-11 slate.
BSU’s road trip continues Nov. 10 as it heads to Eveleth, Minn. for the second-consecutive season for a neutral site battle with Lindenwood University. The Lions enter Division I play in their first year of a two-year candidacy period before being granted full Division I membership. Lindenwood had been a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association from 2003-11. The Lions won four ACHA titles and qualified for the national tournament during all eight years of the program’s existence. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Eveleth.
The Beavers wrap up their five-game road trip against Shannon Miller’s University of Minnesota Duluth squad Nov. 18 and 19 at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. This will be UMD’s first full season at their new arena. Both games are set to commence at 3:07 p.m. The five-time national champion Bulldogs are coming off a 22-9-3 mark last season and a tie for second place in the WCHA standings. UMD lost to eventual national champion University of Wisconsin in the regionals of the NCAA tournament, 2-1. BSU picked up the program’s first-ever win over the Bulldogs last season in a 1-0 win at Sanford Center Nov. 5.
BSU returns home for the first time in nearly a month Nov. 25 and 26 to host North Dakota. The first game will count as a home game for Bemidji State but will be played on neutral ice in Crookston, Minn. The Nov. 26 match will be played at Sanford Center. Both games are slated for 7:07 p.m. starts. UND went 20-13-3 last season guided by Minnesota transfer’s Jocelyne Lamoureux and Monique Lamoureux-Kolls. The Fighting Sioux ended the Beavers’ season on an overtime goal in the deciding game of a three-game series to open the WCHA playoffs. BSU was 2-4-1 versus North Dakota on the season.
The Beavers will wrap up the 2011 portion of their WCHA schedule against defending national champion Wisconsin Nov. 9 and 10 at Sanford Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 2:07 p.m. for both contests. The Badgers went 37-2-2 during the 2010-11 season in order to earn their fourth national title. BSU went winless against Wisconsin last season.
Bemidji State will play its final games of 2011 Dec. 30 and 31 as it wraps up its nonconference slate versus Robert Morris in Pittsburgh, Pa. Friday’s game will commence at 4 p.m. and Saturday’s game is set for a 1 p.m. puck drop. The Colonials went 6-21-7 last season. BSU and Robert Morris are looking to play at least one of the games at CONSOL Energy Center, the home of the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins. Bemidji State and Robert Morris last met in 2009.
“Robert Morris is going through a coaching change this season but they have a lot of good players returning,” Sertich said. “We are looking forward to going back out to Pittsburgh. We were there a couple of years ago and hopefully we can get at least one of those games where the Pittsburgh Penguins play.”
BSU will open 2012 as Minnesota State comes to Sanford Center Jan. 6 and 7. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m. The Beavers will remain at home the next weekend as Ohio State comes to Bemidji Jan. 13 and 14. Those games are also slated for 7:07 p.m. puck drops.
The Beavers will face another long road trip over the next three weekends as it head to Minnesota (Jan. 20 and 21), Wisconsin (Jan. 27 and 28) and North Dakota (Feb. 3 and 4). BSU will return for their final home games of the season Feb. 10 and 11 versus Minnesota Duluth. Both games will begin at 2:07 p.m. Bemidji State will wrap up the regular season Feb. 17 and 18 on the road against St. Cloud State.
The first round of the WCHA Playoffs will again be played on campus sites from Feb. 24-26. First-round winners will advance to the WCHA Final Face-off at AMSOIL Arena in Duluth, Minn. March 2 and 3.
The Beavers will play one exhibition game next season as the Thunder Bay Queens will visit Bemidji Sept. 23. The exhibition contest is slated for 7:07 p.m.
BSU returns all but three players from last season’s roster but will have to replace a lot of scoring as Erin Cody, Annie Bauerfeld and Erin Johnson were all forces for the Beavers on the offensive zone during their four-year careers. Cody ended her career second all-time in points and goals and first in power-play goals. Johnson capped her career as BSU’s all-time leader in game-winning goals with eight while Bauefeld finished in the top 10 all-time for goals and assists. Returning to the squad is all-conference goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova (Sr., Bratislava, Slovakia) who has proven herslef to be a force in net for Sertich’s squad for the past three seasons. Tomcikova is in contention to break most of BSU’s career goaltending marks as a senior. She already holds career records for shutouts (14), goals against average (2.36) and save percentage (.928). Joining Tomcikova is a strong defensive core led by seniors Montana Vichorek (Sr., Moose Lake, Minn.) and Marlee Wheelhouse (Sr., Crookston, Minn.). On the offensive end, juniors Emily Erickson (Jr., Coleraine, Minn.) and Sadie Lundquist (Jr., Cloquet, Minn.) will lead the charge in replacing point producting from the outgoing senior class.