Bemidji State (6-24-2, 5-22-1-0 WCHA)
at No. 1 Minnesota (34-0-0, 28-0-0-0 WCHA)
Fri., March 1, 2013, 6:07 p.m. (CT)
Sat., March 2, 2013, 4:07 p.m. (CT)
Sun., March 3, 2013, 4:07 p.m. (CT) – if necessary
Location: Ridder Arena (3,400), Minneapolis, Minn.
Series History: Minnesota leads 52-4-3
Last Time Out
Bemidji State finished off its regular season last weekend with a home series against Wisconsin. After BSU won its first-ever weekend series against the Badgers in October, the Badgers got revenge by sweeping the Beavers by 2-0 and 3-1 scores. In the first game, the teams went 37:59 without a goal before Molly Doner got UW on the board with her first-career goal. Brianna Decker added an empty-net goal with 0.1 seconds to go. In the second game on BSU’s Senior Day, Kelly Jaminski gave Wisconsin a lead late in the first period, but Bemidji State responded in the second period when Emily Erickson scored the 45th goal and 93rd point of her career to knot the score. The Badgers went onto win on goals by Katy Josephs in the second and Decker in the third.
BSU vs. Minnesota
The Beavers are 4-52-6 all-time against Minnesota after going 1-2-1 against the Gophers last year and losing four games to them this season by scores of 5-1, 5-0, 8-0, and 3-2 in overtime.
About The Gophers
Top-ranked Minnesota has had a record-breaking season in 2012-13 and enters the weekend with an unblemished 34-0-0 record. Dating back to last year’s NCAA title run, the Gophers have won 42 consecutive games. Minnesota is led by junior Amanda Kessel’s nation-leading 43 goals and 53 assists and freshman Hannah Brandt’s 73 points (28g-45a). On the blueline, senior Megan Bozek leads the way with 47 points (15g-32a). Senior goaltender Noora Räty is 31-0-0 with a .953 save percentage and a 0.99 goals against average with 13 shutouts. The Gophers have the nation’s top scoring offense (5.41 goals per game) and defense (0.85 goals against per game).
Against the Gophers
This season, Minnesota has beaten BSU by 5-1, 5-0, 8-0, and 3-2 (in overtime) scores. Kaitlyn Tougas is the only Beaver with multiple points against the Gophers after notching two goals in the teams’ last meeting. She also leads the team with a +1 rating in those four games. In goal, Jessica Havel has started three of the four games and has an .889 save percentage in those games. Leading the Gophers is national leading scorer Amanda Kessel, who has six goals and four assists. Next for Minnesota is Becky Kortum, who has eight points in four games. Noora Räty has a .959 save percentage between the pipes.
A Record on the Line
If Minnesota wins Friday night’s game to open the series against Bemidji State, the Gophers will hold the record for consecutive wins in NCAA hockey (any level) with 43. Currently, Minnesota is tied at 42 with the Bemidji State men’s team, who reeled off 42 straight victories from 1983-85. BSU’s 42-game streak stretched from Nov. 8, 1983 to Jan. 1, 1985 and included a perfect 31-0-0 season in 1983-84 season that ended with an NCAA Division II championship, one of the program’s 13 national titles.
BSU in the Postseason
In its 14 years of existence, Bemidji State holds a 3-19 record in playoff games. The current senior class has a 3-6 record in such games and helped guide BSU to its only WCHA Final Face-Off in 2009-10. Against Minnesota, the Beavers are 0-5 in postseason action, but they haven’t faced the Gophers in the playoffs since 2009.
Jessica Havel has come on strong over the last couple weeks in her senior season. After a career performance in which she made 41 saves in forcing No. 1 Minnesota to overtime for the only time all season, Havel stopped 53 of 57 shots (.930 save perctage) against No. 6 Wisconsin. In the second half of the season, Havel is 2-5-0 with two shutouts and a 2.56 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.
Freshman forward Kaitlyn Tougas registed two goals in BSU’s last tilt against Minnesota. It was the second game in which a BSU player potted multiple goals this season—the other was also by Tougas. It was the fifth time the Gophers conceded a multiple goals by one player all year.
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.
Erika Wheelhouse now has 141 blocks on the season, at least 66 more than anyone else in the country. Not all school track individual blocked shots, but Wheelhouse has averaged 5.64 blocks per game in contests in which they have (25 of 32 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 59 and 57, respectively. Dusik is tied for 10th in Division I, while Ehlert sits in a tie for 12th. As a team, BSU owns the national lead with 523 total blocks. Next is Union with 491.
On the Draw
One area in which the Beavers have excelled this season is in the faceoff circle. BSU is tied for 10th nationally in faceoff win percentage at 53.6 percent. Individually, Natasha Kostenko leads the WCHA and the nation with a 70.6 percent mark, while Emily Erickson is second (third in the nation) in at 67.2 percent.
Redshirt senior Emily Erickson has 93 points in her career after notching a goal in Bemidji State’s last game against Wisconsin. She is fifth in team history in points and third in in goals with 45. Sadie Lundquist is eighth all-time in scoring with 83 points and is fifth in assists with 57. Lundquist is also one game-winning goal shy of tying Erin Cody’s all-time mark of eight. 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.
Bemidji State enters the weekend on a power-play slump. The Beavers are scoreless on the power-play since MacKenzie Thurston lifted the Beavers to a 2-1 win Feb. 2 against Ohio State. In the second half of the season, BSU is 1-for-53 with the man advantage and is one for its last 65 overall. Sadie Lundquist leads Bemidji State this season with three power-play 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 7.2 penalty minutes per game. Only Quinnipiac and Union have fewer.
Seniors Leading the Way
Bemidji State’s senior class has led the way in points this season, scoring 57 of the team’s 132 points (43.2 percent). Second on the list are the sophomores, which have 32 total points. The freshman class is next with 29 points, while the juniors (five players, all of whom have played defense) have 14.
Seniors Sadie Lundquist and MacKenzie Thurston have played in 132 of 132 possible college games. On BSU’s roster, only redshirt seniors Emily Erickson and Abby Williams (138 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.
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 finished 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.