BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University women’s hockey team will face arguably its toughest opponent of the season this week in No. 1 University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. The Beavers (4-5-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) hope to rebound against the Badgers (9-0-1-1, 7-0-1-1 WCHA) after being swept by University of North Dakota last weekend.
Wisconsin holds the all-time series record at 63-5-3 since the teams started play in 1999. Wisconsin defeated the Beavers in all four meetings last season and the Beavers are 0-6-0 in the last six meetings. Bemidji State’s last win against the Badgers came on Jan. 16, 2015 where the Beavers won 2-1 on the road in Madison, Wis. Head coach Jim Scanlan is 1-8-0 in his career against Wisconsin while Badgers head coach Mark Johnson is 50-4-3 against the Beavers.
A look at the Badgers
Wisconsin enters the weekend first in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings and the top ranked team in both the USCHO.com and USAToday/USAHockeyMagazine national polls. The Badger are undefeated in their last 10 games and boast a 9-0-1 record. Wisconsin spent last weekend in Mankato, Minn., where the Badgers swept Minnesota State University, Mankato in league action. The Badgers outscored the Mavericks 6-1 in the series with senior Ann-Renee Desbiens earning her 42nd career shutout, Oct. 28. Junior Baylee Wellhausen led the Badgers with two goals over the weekend while Jenny Ryan, Sarah Nurse and Sydney McKibbon each earned two points.
Wisconsin is second in the league in scoring (3.40 GPG) and has the top rated defense in the WCHA by only allowing 0.90 goals per game. The Badgers, however, have the fifth rated power play in the conference by only converting on .103 percent (4-of-39) of their chances. Wisconsin’s penalty-kill ranks third in the WCHA at .921 percent (35-of-38).
Leading the Badgers in scoring is senior forward Sarah Nurse who has tallied 13 points (9g-4a) in ten games. She ranks sixth in the league in points and is tied for the league best in goals (9). Senior Sydney McKibbon follows with 11 points (3g-8a), eighth in the WCHA, while freshman Presly Norby follows with 10 points (1g-9a). Desbiens leads Wisconsin in net with a 9-0-1 record in ten games. She has four shutouts this season and is the WCHA leader in goals against average (0.90) and third in save percentage (.943).
Beavers swept by North Dakota
In a home-and-home series, the Beavers fell in game one in Grand Forks, N.D., 5-2 and fell in game two in Bemidji, Minn., 2-0. The Fighting Hawks used an early 3-0 lead in game one to down the Beavers, 5-2. Bemidji State could never recover from the three goal deficit but made it 4-2 until a late goal by UND in the final period pushed the lead to 5-2. The Beavers would look to rebound in game two at home. In a game more like previous games in the series, both defenses would limit the opponent’s opportunities. The Fighting Hawks’ freshman forward Emma Nuutinen was the only one able to beat a goaltender on the night with a goal in the first period. Sarah Lecavalier scored an empty-netter late in the third period to complete the sweep of the Beavers. Senior Lexie Shaw earned her fourth career shutout and made 21 saves to blank the Beavers.
Beavers’ penalty kill best in the nation
Despite a 0-2-0 weekend, Bemidji State’s penalty killing unit remained hot and stopped 6-of-6 chances by the Fighting Hawks. The Beavers now sport a .966 percentage, best in the WCHA and in Division I. By stopping all six chances for UND, Bemidji State has now successfully killed 27 straight power plays.
Former Beaver Steph Anderson competes in Four Nations Cup
Bemidji State women’s hockey alumni Stephanie Anderson will compete for Team USA in the Four Nations Cup from Nov. 1-5. Anderson successfully made the 23-woman roster as USA seeks to defend its gold medal from the 2015 tournament. Anderson helped USA to a tournament win in 2015 and this will be her third year competing in the tournament. The 2016 Four Nations Cup is held in Vierumaki, Finland. A total of 29 current or former student-athletes from the WCHA will be competing in the tournament.
For more information on the Bemidji State hockey program, 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 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).