BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University women’s ice hockey team will travel Grand Forks, N.D. to compete in the 2015 WCHA Final Faceoff this weekend. BSU will face No. 2 University of Minnesota at 2:07 p.m. Saturday in the first semifinal matchup.
About the Beavers
The Beavers earned their spot in the Final Faceoff with a series victory over University of Minnesota Duluth last weekend in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. BSU has already set a new program best for wins with a record of 20-16-1.
Bemidji State’s offense has been led this season by its junior class. Leading the way have been Kaitlyn Tougas (13g, 14a), Stephanie Anderson (13g, 10a), and Ivana Bilic (5g, 18a) has supplied quite a bit of offense from the blue line.
Goaltender Brittni Mowat has been a staple for the Beavers in net all season, having started 31 of the 37 games. Mowat, who is 18-12-1 with a 1.66 goals against average and .945 save percentage this season, was named to the All-WCHA First Team earlier this week.
Minnesota (31-2-4 overall, 22-2-4 WCHA) comes into the WCHA Final Faceoff fresh off a sweep over Minnesota State University, Mankato in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. The Golden Gophers won the first game 10-0, Friday, and then finished off the sweep with a 5-1 victory Saturday.
The Golden Gophers’ offense is led by a pair of 60-point scorers in Hannah Brandt (31g, 36a) and Dani Cameranesi (23g, 39a). Both players are among the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, which is annually awarded to the top player in Division I women’s hockey.
In addition to Brandt and Cameranesi, Minnesota also has the nation’s top scoring freshman in Kelly Pannek (13g, 29a) and the WCHA’s top scoring defenseman in Rachel Ramsey (8g, 23a).
Amanda Leveille has handled the bulk of the goaltending duties for Minnesota this season. She has a record of 25-2-3 with an 1.17 goals against average and .947 save percentage. Leveille’s 25 wins, goals against average and save percentage marks all rank in the top five nationally.
Headed to Grand Forks
This will be the second ever trip to the WCHA Final Faceoff in its current format for the Beavers with the first coming after the 2009-10 season. BSU met Minnesota Duluth in its only Final Faceoff appearance and came up short, 7-3.
Second Half Surge
Juniors Stephanie Anderson and Kaitlyn Tougas have been BSU’s most potent offensive players since the calendar turned to 2015. Anderson leads the team with eight goals and five assists in 17 games, while Tougas has provided three game-winning goals in the second half of the season.
Postseason Players to Watch
Ivana Bilic (3a), Whitney Wivoda (2g, a) and Anderson (2g, 2a) have all played well during their postseason careers as each player has at least three points.
A Complete 180
The Beavers’ turnaround this season can be attributed to their goal differential. BSU was outscored last season 64-104 in 36 games and this season’s team is outscoring its opponents 85-66 in 37 games.
The strength of BSU’s team has been its defense as it ranks in the top 10 nationally in the following categories: blocked shots (1st, 652), penalty-kill percentage (3rd, 91.2 %) and goals allowed (9th, 66).
Stat to Keep in Mind
BSU’s third-ranked penalty-killing unit will be tested if it is called to action against Minnesota as the Golden Gophers lead the nation in power-play percentage (30.6 %). In the four previous meetings between the two teams, BSU has snuffed out six of the eight power-play chances (75 %).
Leading at the Breaks
Bemidji State has been very difficult to beat when it has held the lead going into intermissions this season. The Beavers are 11-3-0 when leading going into the first intermission and 17-0-0 when leading after two periods. Those records drop to 9-13-1 and 3-16-1, respectively when BSU is tied or behind going into the locker room.
Three members of the Bemidji State women’s hockey team were honored by the WCHA earlier this week. Goaltender Brittni Mowat was named All-WCHA First Team, while freshman defenseman Alexis Joyce earned a spot on the All-WCHA Rookie Team. Head Coach Jim Scanlan was the third and final honoree for BSU as he was named the WCHA Coach of the Year.
Series/Playoff History vs. Minnesota
Saturday’s matchup will be the eighth postseason meeting between the Beavers and Golden Gophers with the last coming after the 2012-13 season. BSU holds a 0-7-0 mark in playoff games versus Minnesota.
BSU is 5-60-7 in the all-time series against Minnesota, which includes a 1-2-1 mark in 2014-15. Despite being 1-2-1, the Beavers have played Minnesota tightly with just two goals separating the two teams in the four games. The two-goal differential is the lowest among WCHA teams versus Minnesota this season.
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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).