BEMIDJI, Minn. – The No. 6 Bemidji State women’s hockey team will host No. 2 University of Wisconsin Jan. 15-16 at the Sanford Center. The Beavers (15-5-2, 10-5-1 WCHA) begin Western Collegiate Hockey Association play for the first time in 2016 after hosting non-conference Lindenwood University last week. The series will feature two nationally ranked opponents and will begin at 2:07 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 followed by the final game Saturday, Jan. 16 at 2:07 p.m.
Bemidji State Sweeps Lindenwood
Bemidji State opened 2016 with a pair of wins against Lindenwood to continue its 2015-16 season. The Beavers had arguably one of their best offensive series and set season-highs in goals (5) and shots (58) Thursday, Jan. 7 in a 5-3 win. BSU opened the series by defeating the Lions 2-1 in a game where the Beavers totaled 34 shots, but Lindenwood goaltender, Jolene deBruyn, made 32 saves to keep the Lions in the one goal game. The Beavers battled the Lions to a 1-1 tie after the first two periods, but senior Stephanie Anderson scored the game-winning goal 48 seconds into the third period.
The Beavers looked to complete the sweep the following night, but two goals within the first three minutes by the Lions gave them an early 2-0 lead. But the Beavers responded, and over the final 10 minutes of the period, BSU scored three unanswered goals to take the lead. Bemidji State went on to score two more goals in the game while holding Lindenwood to just one and completed the sweep with a 5-3 victory.
Bemidji State used its leadership in the series and had seniors Stephanie Anderson and Kaitlyn Tougas lead BSU in scoring with four points each. Anderson notched two goals and two assists while Tougas tallied all four points from assists.
Home Sweet Home
The Beavers have been nearly unbeatable at home this season and with 12 games remaining, Bemidji State is 9-1-2 at the Sanford Center. The Beavers have outscored opponents 30-15 in their home arena and have posted two shutouts. Earlier in the season BSU went on an eight game unbeaten streak from Sept. 25-Dec. 4 with a record of 6-0-2 during the streak. BSU was handed their first loss of the season at home by then No. 9 University of North Dakota in a game that featured limited scoring opportunities as the Beavers fell 1-0. Bemidji State will play six of the remaining 12 games of the season at home before the first round of the WCHA Playoffs begin Feb. 26.
Bilic Returns With Gold
Bemidji State senior Ivana Bilic will be back in the lineup this weekend after missing last week’s series with Lindenwood. Bilic was in Fussen, Germany to help Canada’s National Development Team win the gold medal at the 2016 Nations Cup. She appeared in all three games during the tournament and helped Canada win its 11th gold medal since first taking part in 2003.
Bemidji State and Wisconsin will meet for the final time in the regular season this weekend. The Beavers traveled to Madison, Wisc., Oct. 23-24 where the Badgers swept BSU in two games. The Beavers were shutout in both games by the nation’s leading goaltender, Ann-renee Desbiens. The series marked the first time since 2008 that BSU failed to score a goal in a two game series. Sophomore Annie Pankowski lead the Badgers with three points over the weekend and had 13 different players earn a point over the weekend.
A Look At The Badgers
Wisconsin comes into Bemidji, Minn., this weekend as the leading point-getter in the WCHA standings and the No. 2 ranked team in both national polls. The Badgers own a 21-1-1 record this season after having their 18-game winning streak snapped by North Dakota, Dec. 11.
Wisconsin utilizes tremendous depth and has 10 student-athletes who have double-digits in points so far this season. Annie Pankowski leads the Badgers with 36 points (16g-20a) and is seventh in the nation. The Badgers also have six players with 20 or more points this season in Pankowski, Sarah Nurse (15g-9a=24), Jenny Ryan (4g-19a=23), Emily Clark (12g-10a=22), Courtney Burke (3g-19a=22), and Sydney McKibbon (3g-19a=22).
Not only do the Badgers have some of the top offensive players in the nation, UW also has the nation’s leading goaltender in Ann-renee Desbiens. Desbiens ranks first in goals against average (0.71), save percentage (.959) and is tied for the most shutouts (10) this season. As a team, the Badgers are one of the top programs in the nation. They have the nation’s leading defense and only allow 0.64 goals per game and are fourth on offense after averaging 4.23 goals.
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Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooden region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, BSU 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).