BEMIDJI, Minn. – After having its program record nine-game winning streak snapped at the Minnesota Cup to No. 10 University of Minnesota Duluth, the Bemidji State University women’s hockey team resumes Western Collegiate Hockey Association play by hosting No. 1 University of Wisconsin. The Beavers (12-9-1, 6-6-0-0 WCHA) return home for the first time since Dec. 6-7 to host the top-ranked Badgers (20-1-1, 10-1-1-0 WCHA) for a two-game, league series, Jan. 10-11. Puck drop for game one of the series is scheduled for 6:07 p.m., Friday followed by game two at 3:07 p.m., Saturday.
The Beavers and Badgers will meet for the 87th and 88th meeting in the all-time series this weekend, a series that dates back to Nov. 13, 1999. Wisconsin has dominated the series and owns a 76-6-4 record against Bemidji State. The two teams met earlier this season in Madison, Wis., where the top-ranked Badgers earned two 4-1 victories at LaBahn Arena. Bemidji State is on a three-game losing streak against Wisconsin with its last win coming in a 2-1 upset Feb. 1, 2019. Junior Paige Beebe leads all active skaters with five points off of three goals and two assists in 11 career games against the Badgers while senior Jacqueline Kaasa (2g-2a) and junior Clair DeGeorge (1g-3a) each follow with four points. Goaltenders Lauren Bench and Kerigan Dowhy each have faced the Badgers five times in their careers with Bench posting a 1-4-0 record and Dowhy a 0-4-1 record. Dowhy leads the team with a 3.24 goals against average and .909 save percentage while Bench follows with a 3.40 goals against average and .899 save percentage. BSU head coach Jim Scanlan is 2-21-1 when facing Wisconsin while Mark Johnson is 63-5-4 when facing the Beavers.
A Look At The Badgers
Wisconsin travels to Bemidji as the top-ranked team in both the USCHO.com and USAToday/USA Hockey Magazine national polls and boast a 20-1-1 record, the nation’s best winning percentage (.932). The Badgers are first in the WCHA standings with 31 points and a 10-1-1-0 league record. Wisconsin is coming off a weekend where they were crowned champions in the first-ever Battle at the Burgh tournament in Pittsburg, Pa. The Badgers opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over Robert Morris University and then defeated No. 3 Northeastern 4-3 in overtime to capture the tournament trophy. Wisconsin is currently on an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) which is the second longest in Division I.
Wisconsin is one of the most complete teams in all of Division I and bring the nation’s top-ranked offense at 5.00 goals per game to the Sanford Center while also bringing the nation’s fourth-best defense at 1.64 goals per game. The Badgers also own the nation’s best power play and have converted on .371 percent (26-of-70) of their chances. They rank 11th in the nation on the penalty kill and have stopped .869 percent (53-of-61) of its opponents chances.
The Badgers are led by the top offensive line in the nation in Daryl Watts, Abby Roque and Sophie Shirley. The trio has combined for 56 of the teams 110 goals this season (.501) and 135 points. Watts leads the team and is the nation’s leading point scorer with 52 points off of 20 goals and 32 assists. She is followed by Roque who has 42 points off of 17 goals and 25 assists while Shirley is close behind with 41 points off of 19 goals and 22 assists. The Badgers’ blueline is paced by senior Mekenzie Steffen who is second in the nation with 24 points off of five goals and 19 assists. Senior Kristen Campbell leads the team in net and has posted a 19-1-1 record to go along with a 1.69 goals against average and .912 save percentage.
A Look at the Beavers
Bemidji State returns home after seeing its program-record nine-game win streak snapped at No. 10 Minnesota Duluth in the championship game of the Minnesota Cup tournament. The Beavers finished second at the second-annual tournament after defeating St. Cloud State University 1-0 in overtime but fell to the Bulldogs a day later. The Beavers sport a 12-9-1 record heading into the second half of the conference season and are fourth in the WCHA standings with 18 points and a 6-6-0 league record.
The Beavers are fifth in the WCHA in scoring by averaging 2.05 goals per game and are fourth on defense by holding opponents to 2.23 goals per game. Bemidji State’s power play is tied for fifth in the league by converting at .121 percent (7-of-58) while its penalty kill is sixth at .810 percent (51-of-63). Bemidji State is 0-for-14 on the power play since Nov. 29 while its penalty kill has allowed three power-play goals in the last four games (3-for-11).
Bemidji State is paced on offense by seniors Haley Mack, Kiki Radke and Abby Halluska. Mack paces the team with 16 points off of 12 goals and four assists while her 12 goals this season is the eighth most in the WCHA. She is followed by Radke who has posted a career-high 15 points off of five goals and 10 assists. Halluska follows with 12 points off of five goals and seven assists and has seven points in the last seven games (3g-4a). BSU’s blueline is led by juniors Mak Langei (2g-8a) and Tina Kampa (0g-10a) who each have 10 points on the season. Redshirt junior Lauren Bench paces the Beavers’ netminders and has posted a 9-7-0 record with a 2.11 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Bench ranks fourth in the league in goals against average and is third in save percentage while her nine wins this season is tied for a career high.
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).