Bemidji State (6-20-2, 5-18-1-0 WCHA)
at No. 1 Minnesota (30-0-0, 24-0-0-0 WCHA)
Fri., Feb. 15, 2013, 7:07 p.m. (CT)
Sat., Feb. 16, 2013, 4:07 p.m. (CT)
Location: Ridder Arena (3,400), Minneapolis, Minn.
Series History: Minnesota leads 50-4-3
Last Time Out
After splitting two 2-1 decisions at home against Ohio State, Bemidji State was swept on the road against North Dakota. In the first game of the weekend, UND scored twice in the first period before the Beavers recorded a shot. Emily Erickson got BSU on the board but North Dakota answered 21 seconds later. Bemidji State then rallied with a Natasha Kostenko goal before the end of the first and a Jenessa Philipczyk goal in the second before going through a scoreless third period and falling 4-3 on an Allison Parizek goal with 1:02 to play in overtime. North Dakota again scored twice before Bemidji State in the series finale and added four more goals in the second en route to a 7-0 sweep-clinching win. Jocelyn Lamoureux led the way with six assists in the game.
BSU vs. Minnesota
The Beavers are 4-50-6 all-time against Minnesota after going 1-2-1 against the Gophers last year and being swept by them at home in December, 5-1 and 5-0.
About The Gophers
Top-ranked Minnesota has had a record-breaking season in 2012-13 and enters the weekend with an unblemished 30-0-0 record. Dating back to last year’s NCAA title run, the Gophers have won 38 consecutive games. Minnesota is led by junior Amanda Kessel’s nation-leading 40 goals and 49 assist and freshman Hannah Brandt’s 67 points (26g-41a). On the blueline, senior Megan Bozek leads the way with 44 points (15g-29a). Senior goaltender Noora Räty is 28-0-0 with a .952 save percentage and a 1.03 goals against average with 11 shutouts. The Gophers have the nation’s top scoring offense (5.6 goals per game) and defense (0.9 goals against per game, as well as the top power play (33.8 percent).
Kostenko or Bust
In Bemidji State’s last 13 games, either sophomore forward Natasha Kostenko has recorded a point, or the team suffered a shutout loss. Kostenko has points in 10 of those 13 games. The Fannystelle, Manitoba native had a three-game goal streak snapped in Saturday’s 7-0 loss to North Dakota. Senior Abby Williams had a four-game point streak come to an end in that game.
Getting Back to Full Strength
After dressing just 15 skaters in both games against Ohio State, BSU saw the return of a fourth forward line at North Dakota last weekend when Hanna Moher, Kaitlyn Tougas and Danielle Williams were inserted back into the lineup.
Put it on the Board
In last Friday’s series opener against North Dakota, freshman Jenessa Philipczyk notched her first collegiate goal to tie the game 3-3 in the second period. Philipczyk, a redshirt freshman, became the eighth Beaver to score her first goal this season. Emily McKnight (four assists) and Alex Citrowske (three assists) are the only BSU players without a career goal. Also in the game, Kayleigh Chapman (14 games) and Megan Lushanko (six games) ended point-scoring droughts with assists. Alex Ehlert, who scored a goal Jan. 19 against Minnesota Duluth, recorded her first assist since the Oct. 5 season-opener in the overtime loss.
After racking up 10 blocks last weekend at North Dakota, Erika Wheelhouse now has 124 blocks on the season, at least 59 more than anyone else in the country. Not all school track individual blocked shots, but Wheelhouse has averaged 5.39 blocks per game in contests in which they have (23 of 27 games; excluding road series against Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth). Also high in the block rankings are juniors Tess Dusik and Alex Ehlert, with 55 and 50, respectively. Dusik is fifth in Division I, while Ehlert sits in a six-way tie for ninth. As a team, BSU owns the national lead with 465 total blocks.
On the Draw
One area in which the Beavers have excelled this season is in the faceoff circle. BSU is seventh nationally in faceoff win percentage at 54.8 percent. This weekend’s opponent, Minnesota, is second at 56.3 percent. Individually, Emily Erickson is second in the country in faceoff percentage with a personal 67.9 percent mark while Natasha Kostenko is third with a 67.1 percent mark. Erickson and Kostenko lead the WCHA with those numbers.
Erickson Nearing Milestone
Redshirt senior Emily Erickson notched at least a point in the team’s first four games of 2013 and added a goal last weekend and now has 91 for her career. The Beavers have four regular-season games to go and at least two playoff games. If Erickson can notch nine or more points in that time, she’d be the fourth player in program history to hit the 100-point plateau. She is third in team history with 44 career goals.
Erika Wheelhouse enters the weekend with 50 career points, one shy of her sister, Marlee’s, mark. She currently sits fourth on Bemidji State’s list for point by a defenseman. Wheelhouse is also one of five BSU defenders with 10 or more career goals. Fellow senior Sadie Lundquist is one game-winning goal shy of tying Erin Cody’s all-time mark of eight and is tied with Montana Vichorek and current teammate MacKenzie Thurston for ninth in program history with 128 consecutive games played.
The BSU women’s hockey team is entering the final two series of the regular season and this stretch could be the toughest of the team’s season. After traveling to No. 9 North Dakota last week, the Beavers will now take on undefeated, top-ranked Minnesota before a home series against No. 8 Wisconsin. Against its February opponents, BSU entered the month 1-8-1 (1-0-1 against Wisconsin). The Beavers went 3-5-0 in February last year and are 28-73-8 all-time in the month. They are 1-3-0 so far this month.
Thinking Outside the Box
Thanks in large part to penalty-free games against Maine and Minnesota State, BSU has had streaks of 110:49 and 69:10 without a penalty this season. The Beavers are the second-least penalized team in the nation with just 6.8 penalty minutes per game. Only Quinnipiac (6.1 penalty minutes per game) has fewer.
Seniors Leading the Way
Bemidji State’s senior class has led the way so far in points this season, scoring 54 of the team’s 123 points (43.9 percent). Second on the list are the sophomores, which have 32 total points. The freshman class is next with 26 points, while the juniors (five players, all of whom have played defense) have 11.
Let’s Start the Show Proper, Shall We?
Though Bemidji State is 6-18-2 on the season, the team is 5-5-1 in games in which it scores first and 1-15-1 when it doesn’t. The Beavers have carried leads into the third period six times this season and are 3-3-1 when doing so. BSU fell behind 2-0 in both losses to North Dakota last week.
Seniors Sadie Lundquist and MacKenzie Thurston have played in 128 of 128 possible college games. On BSU’s roster, only redshirt seniors Emily Erickson and Abby Williams (134 each) have played more, but both players have missed games. Nov. 18 against North Dakota, senior Erika Wheelhouse missed a game for the first time in her collegiate career after playing 111 in a row. She has played in every game since.
By not allowing a goal from the third period of a Dec. 8 loss to Minnesota until the first period of a Jan. 12 tilt against Minnesota State, Jessica Havel posted the second-longest shutout streak in program history, making 35 saves during a 132:53 goal-free span. The longest streak was a 149:30 run by 2011-12 senior and All-American Zuzana Tomcikova that went from Oct. 29, 2010-Nov. 6, 2010.
Jan. 12, Bemidji State trailed 3-0 heading into the third period before rallying to force overtime against Minnesota State. It was the seventh time in program in program history the team came back to tie the score after trailing by three goals or more and it was just the third time BSU did so facing a three-goal deficit entering the third period. It last occurred in a 3-3 tie against North Dakota Oct. 20, 2002.
The first half of Bemidji State’s season included some highs and lows. Despite its 3-13-2 record, BSU did become the first team to score (with a Kristin Huber goal) and win at Wisconsin’s brand-new LaBahn Arena. Abby Ryplanski pitched a shutout in a 1-0 victory Oct. 19. The Beavers also recorded their first-ever win the day following U.S. Thanksgiving with a Nov. 23 triumph over Minnesota State. The Beavers were previously 0-5-2 in such games. BSU also posted its first third-period comeback win since Nov. 5, 2005 when it rallied to top Providence 3-2 Oct. 5 in the season-opener and had its first penalty-free game since Nov. 4, 2011 in a 2-2 tie Nov. 10 Maine. Also in the first half, Alex Ehlert, Kayleigh Chapman, Megan Lushanko, Kaitlyn Tougas, Hanna Moher, Ivana Bilic, and Lauren Merkley also recorded first career goals and every player on the roster saw playing time in at least one game. For its only exhibition contest, BSU played in its fourth U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Face Off Classic Nov 1. With a 3-2 overtime win over the Minnesota Whitecaps, the Beavers moved to 2-2-0 in the annual event that is played at the Eveleth Hippodrome in Eveleth, Minn. and improved to 2-1-0 in exhibition games against the Whitecaps.
After a sixth-place finish in 2011-12, the Beavers were slotted in the same spot in the WCHA Coaches Poll. BSU, which was tabbed behind Ohio State by the coaches, was picked ahead of the Buckeyes for a fifth-place finish in the USCHO.com’s season preview. Bemidji State currently sits in seventh place.
About Last Year
The 2011-12 Bemidji State women’s hockey season was a memorable one. The Beavers finished with a 17-17-3 record, setting a program record for wins in a single season. BSU also topped its best WCHA win total by winning 11 conference contests. Along the way, the Beavers achieved a top-10 national ranking for the first time ever, checking as high as No. 7. After beating and tying Providence in the first week of the season, Bemidji State at least received votes in every poll through the end of the season. BSU recorded at least one win against every squad it faced except regular-season champion Wisconsin. BSU also finished 6-0-1 in nonconference play.