BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University women’s ice hockey team will wrap up its regular season with a series against No. 2 University of Minnesota this weekend. The Beavers are coming off consecutive sweeps over St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato, while the Golden Gophers are fresh off a sweep of No. 6 University of Minnesota Duluth last weekend.
About the Beavers
The Beavers come into the regular season’s final weekend with a chance to secure a home playoff series in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. Bemidji State has already set new program records for the most victories (18) and conference victories (13) this season.
Bemidji State has had 10 different skaters reach double-digits in points this season and a pair has reached 20 points. Leading the way has been juniors Kaitlyn Tougas with 25 points (11g, 14a) and Ivana Bilic with 20 points (5g, 15a), while Stephanie Anderson is tied with Tougas for the team lead with 11 goals.
Sophomore Brittni Mowat has been the main goaltender for BSU this season and has a record of 16-9-1 with an 1.56 goals against average and .947 save percentage. The Glenboro, Manitoba native has already set a new program record for the most victories in a single season (16) and is tied for the most shutouts in a season with six.
Minnesota comes to Sanford Center having already clinched the WCHA regular season crown. The Golden Gophers are 27-2-4 this season. One of those losses came against the Beavers earlier this season (Nov. 1, 1-0).
The Golden Gophers have one of the most potent offenses in the country leading the WCHA in scoring offense (4.29 goals per game), power-play percentage (30.9) and power-play goals (36). A large part of the scoring has come from Hanna Brandt (59 points) and Dani Cameranesi (53 points), but the Golden Gophers also have the nation’s top scoring freshman in Kelly Pannek (39 points) and the WCHA’s leading scorer from the blue line in Rachel Ramsey (30 points).
Junior Amanda Leveille has handled the bulk of the goaltending duties for Minnesota. Leveille has a record of 22-2-3 with an 1.26 goals against average and .944 save percentage to go along with six shutouts this season.
Bemidji State swept Minnesota State last weekend by scores of 4-0 and 4-3. With BSU sweeping St. Cloud State two weeks ago, it is the first time the Beavers have swept back-to-back conference series since Feb. 2006 when they swept North Dakota and Ohio State.
Bemidji State improves to 18-13-1 and 13-12-1 in WCHA play with the sweep of the Mavericks. Both win totals are new program records.
Playoff Picture Starting to Take Shape
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the playoff picture in the WCHA is coming into focus. Minnesota, Wisconsin, St. Cloud State and Minnesota State are locked into the first, second, seventh and eighth seeds, respectively for the WCHA playoffs. The remaning four spots are still up for grabs with three of the four teams (North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State) having a chance at the No. 3 seed and all four having a chance at reaching the No. 4 spot.
The first round of the WCHA playoffs, which is a best-of-three series, will take place Feb. 27-March 1 at the arenas of the top four seeds. The four winners of the first round will advance to WCHA Final Faceoff, which will be held at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, N.D. March 6-7.
Tougas Tearing It Up
Junior Kaitlyn Tougas led the Beavers’ offense with three points (2g, 1a) and with 14 shots on goal against the Mavericks. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native has been BSU’s most prolific scorer the last few weekends with six points (4g, 2a) in the last six games. Tougas, who leads the team with 25 points (11g, 14a) this season, ranks 14th on BSU’s all-time scoring list with 61 points and needs just six more to move into a tie for 13th place.
WCHA Weekly Honoree
Freshman Alexis Joyce earned her third WCHA Rookie of the Week honor after tallying three assists last weekend against MSU. Joyce leads all WCHA freshman defensemen with 16 points (4g, 12a) this season. Joyce’s 12 assists are the fifth-most by a freshman in program history. The Lakeville, Minn. native also ranks second nationally with 103 blocked shots.
Anderson to represent Team USA in March
Stephanie Anderson has been named to the 2015 United States Women’s National Team roster. Anderson, who becomes the first player in program history to be named to Team USA, will be representing the United States in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, March 28 to April 4, at Malmo Isstadion in Malmo, Sweden.
Series History vs. Minnesota
BSU holds a mark of 5-58-7 against Minnesota all-time, but the Beavers took five of six points from the Golden Gophers earlier this season in Minneapolis. Bemidji State will look to take the season series from Minnesota for the first time in program history this weekend.
For more information on the Bemidji State athletic programs, tickets or schedules, visit BSUBeavers.com, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.
Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).