No. 6 Wisconson (19-9-2, 15-9-2-2 WCHA)
at Bemidji State (6-20-2, 5-18-1-0 WCHA)
Fri., Feb. 22, 2013, 7:07 p.m. (CT)
Sat., Feb. 23, 2013, 4:07 p.m. (CT)
Location: Sanford Center (4,373), Bemidji, Minn.
Series History: Wisconson leads 47-4-3
Last Time Out
Last weekend, Bemidji State was swept for the second consecutive series, falling 8-0 and 3-2 in overtime against No. 1 Minnesota. In the first game, national leading scorer Amanda Kessel scored her first of two goals eight seconds into the game and the Gophers built a 4-0 lead in the first before adding three more in the second and one in the third for an 8-0 win. In the second game of the weekend, BSU was defensively sound in the first and emerged scoreless after killing three Minnesota penalties. Kaitlyn Tougas opened the scoring midway through the second and Kessel knotted the score minutes later. Rachel Ramsey cancelled out another Tougas goal in the third before Mira Jalosuo won it with 1:12 left in overtime. Jessica Havel put up 41 saves in the game.
BSU vs. Wisconsin
All-time, Bemidji State is 4-47-3 against the Badgers. Wisconsin was the only team to record a season sweep of BSU last year, but the Beavers won a series against UW for the first time ever in October with a 1-0 win and 3-3 tie (and shootout loss) on the weekend the Badgers opened their new barn, LaBahn Arena.
About The Badgers
Perennial power Wisconsin got off to a slow start by its own standards after reaching the national title game last season, but recovered quickly and has become one of the hottest teams in the nation in the second half. After a 3-3-2 start, UW has gone 16-6-0 and enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak. Wisconsin is led by 2011-12 Patty Kazmaier Award winner Brianna Decker and her 48 points, as well as Madison Packer, who has 30 points. In goal, Alex Rigsby is 19-9-2 with a 1.60 goals against average and .939 save percentage.
Down the Stretch they Come
This weekend is the last of WCHA in the regular season. After St. Cloud State earned five points against Minnesota State last weekend, BSU now sits in last place, two points behind SCSU with no possibility of reaching sixth. The Huskies host undefeated Minnesota this weekend while Bemidji State host Wisconsin. If the Beavers can gain three points on St. Cloud State (SCSU owns the tiebreaker), they will travel to North Dakota in the first round of the playoffs. If not, they head to Minneapolis for the second time in three weeks to play the Gophers again. BSU will play in a best-of-three series in either scenario.
Last Saturday, coming off an 8-0 loss in which she didn’t start and allowed three goals on 22 shots, senior goaltender Jessica Havel had a career night, making 41 saves, her most as a Beaver. Thirteen of the stops came shorthanded and 19 came in the third period, as the Beavers became the first team all season to take 32-0-0 Minnesota to overtime or give the Gophers a one-goal game.
Kaitlyn Tougas registed two goals last Saturday against Minnesota. It was the second game in which a BSU player potted multiple goals this season—the other was also by Tougas.
Kostenko or Bust
In 14 of Bemidji State’s last 15 games (last Saturday’s game at Minnesota being the exception), either sophomore forward Natasha Kostenko has recorded a point, or the team suffered a shutout loss. Kostenko has points in 10 of those 15 games. The Fannystelle, Manitoba native had a team-best three-game goal streak during the span.
After going through the season’s first 18 games with no points, redshirt senior forward Abby Williams went on a four-game point steak from Jan. 19 to Feb. 8. The four-game point streak tied a season best for the Beavers. MacKenzie Thurston, Emily Erickson, and Natasha Kostenko (two streaks) had at least a point in four-straight games, as well.
Looking to Become a Class of its Own
By recording their sixth win of the season Feb. 2 against Ohio State, this year’s senior class tied the 2011-12 seniors as the four-year class with the most wins all-time at BSU with 49. To pass the Class of 2012, the Beavers will need a senior weekend win this week or playoff win (which would have to come at Minnesota next week).
Erika Wheelhouse now has 124 blocks on the season, at least 52 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 29 games; excluding road series against Minnesota State, Minnesota Duluth, and Minnesota). Also high in the block rankings are juniors Tess Dusik and Alex Ehlert, with 55 and 50, respectively. Dusik is ninth in Division I, while Ehlert sits in a tie for 16th. 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 54.2 percent. Individually, Natasha Kostenko lead the WCHA and the nation with a 69.6 percent mark, while Emily Erickson is second in at 67.9 percent.
Redshirt senior Emily Erickson has 92 points in her career after notching an assist in the Gophers’ last game against Minnesota. She is fifth in team history in points and third in in goals with 44. Sadie Lunquist is eighth all-time in scoring with 83 points and is fifth in assists with 57. Lunquist is also one game-winning goal shy of tying Erin Cody’s all-time mark of eight and is tied with teammate MacKenzie Thurston for eighth in program history with 130 consecutive games played. Erickson and Abby Williams are on pace to at least tie Kelly Hart and Nikki Eckebrecht for 10th in program history with 140 games played. Fellow senior Erika Wheelhouse enters this 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.
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 third-least penalized team in the nation with just 7.1 penalty minutes per game. Only Quinnipiac and Union have fewer.
Seniors Leading the Way
Bemidji State’s senior class has led the way so far in points this season, scoring 56 of the team’s 129 points (43.4 percent). Second on the list are the sophomores, which have 32 total points. The freshman class is next with 28 points, while the juniors (five players, all of whom have played defense) have 13.
Seniors Sadie Lundquist and MacKenzie Thurston have played in 130 of 130 possible college games. On BSU’s roster, only redshirt seniors Emily Erickson and Abby Williams (136 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 eighth 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.