Beavers open WCHA and home slates against St. Cloud
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Beavers open WCHA and home slates against St. Cloud

Bemidji State vs. St. Cloud State
Oct. 12, 2012, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13, 2012 3 p.m.
Location: Sanford Center (4,373), Bemidji, Minn.
Series History: Series tied 26-26-7

Last Time Out
The Bemidji State women’s hockey program opened its 15th season of existence with a split against Divison I Poll vote-getter Providence College in Rhode Island. The Beavers opened their season by spotting the Friars with a 2-0 lead in the second in the second period, but BSU stormed back when Kayleigh Chapman scored before the end of the second stanza and Alex Ehlert and Natasha Kostenko buried third-period goals to help Bemidji State steal a 3-2 nonconference win. On Saturday, PC opened the scoring before freshman Kaitlyn Tougas scored the weekend’s only power-play goal to knot the score before the first intermission. Providence went on to score thee goals in the second and one in the third to salvage a split with a 5-1 win.

BSU vs. St. Cloud State
This weekend, Bemidji State and St. Cloud will renew their intrastate rivalry for the 60th and 61st times. The teams have split the first 59 matches at 26-26-7, but BSU has won the last 10 meetings, dating back to a Feb. 26, 2010 playoff game in St. Cloud.

About the Huskies
St. Cloud began its season by getting swept on the road against No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Minnesota. The Gophers beat the Huskies 7-1 and 4-0 outshot SCSU by a combined 80-34. Freshman Vanessa Spataro scored St. Cloud’s only goal of the weekend and Julie Friend (37 saves on Friday) and Katie Fitzgerald (32 saves on Saturday) each started a game in goal. The Huskies, who went 5-29-2 (4-26-0 WCHA) in 2011-12, lost leading scorer Brittany Toor (7g-9a), but return Molli Mott (10g-4a) and Abby Ness (2g-12a), who tied for second on the team in points.

Cancer Awareness Weekend
The BSU women’s athletic teams are holding Cancer Awareness Weekend this weekend. The Beaver women’s hockey team will contribute by accepting donations for the American Cancer Society while wearing pink socks and tape to raise awareness for cancer. 

Two Scores and Seven Years
Entering the third period against Providence on Friday, Bemidji State trailed 2-1 and was down 2-0 before sophomore Kayleigh Chapman cut the deficit in half with her team’s first goal of the season. In the final frame, Alex Ehlert knotted the score with 12:25 to play and Natasha Kostenko put the Beavers in front with 5:55 to play. The two third period goals gave BSU its first third-period comeback in almost seven years when it erased a 1-0 deficit at Minnesota State on Nov. 5, 2005 to win 2-1

First Time at the Perfect Time
There were many firsts for Bemidji State last weekend. In their first game of the season, sophomore Kayleigh Chapman scored her first career goal to cut the PC lead to 2-1 before junior Alex Ehlert tallied her first collegiate goal to tie the score in the third period. Ehlert went on to record a second assist to earn her first multiple-point game.

The team’s newcomers also made an impact on Friday. Freshmen Kaitlyn Tougas and Megan Lushanko recorded their first college points. Lushanko posted a helper on Chapman’s goal before Tougas dished out an assist on Ehlert’s goal. Both were primary assists. On Saturday, Tougas registered the first goal of her career to tie the game at one in the first period. The goal was the only power play goal by either team on the weekend.

Between the Pipes
After losing Second Team All-American Zuzana Tomcikova and steady backup Alana McElhinney to graduation, the Beavers looked to move forward in 2012-13 starting with last week’s series against Providence. In the team’s first game, senior Jessica Havel made the first start of her career and went on to record the first win of her career, making 24 saves on 26 shots in a 3-2 BSU victory. 

On Saturday, Bemidji State went with sophomore transfer Abby Ryplanski in goal. Ryplanski, who went 5-9-3 and posted a 2.36 goals against average and a .909 save percentage for a now-defunct Niagara University program, made her BSU debut. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native allowed five goals on 26 shots and took the loss.

Goals Against
Saturday’s five goals against for BSU in a 5-1 loss to Providence marked the highest amount of goals the Beavers conceded since losing 5-3 to Ohio State on Jan. 13. Bemidji State allowed five or more goals four times last season, giving up a season-high six goals in a 6-1 loss to Wisconsin on Dec. 10.

Against the Huskies in 2011-12
Just as is the case in 2012-13, Bemidji State’s first home WCHA series in 2011-12 came against St. Cloud. In that series, the Beavers picked up 8-1 and 5-2 wins after leading by at least three goals heading into the third period of both games.

Bemidji State went on to finish its regular season with a road sweep of the Huskies. BSU erased a 1-0 lead in the first game en route to a 3-2 win and cruised to a 6-1 victory the following day. The Beavers finished in sixth place in the WCHA, 23 points ahead of St. Cloud, who finished seventh (two points ahead of eight-place Minnesota State).

On the Docket
The schedule for the BSU women’s hockey team is tough as usual in 2012-13. After beginning with a split against Poll vote-getter Providence, the Beavers will jump right into grueling WCHA slate, that includes four meetings apiece against four top-ten teams: unanimous No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Minnesota, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 6 North Dakota, and No. 10 Ohio State.

The month October features a large amount of travel for BSU. After beginning the year with its longest trip, 1,200 miles to Providence, the Beavers come home this weekend for their only home series of the month against St. Cloud. After that, Bemidji State will open Wisconsin’s new LaBahn Arena in a Friday-Sunday series and with follow that with its’ second-longest trip of the season, an 800 mile trek to Ohio State. After October is finished, the team will only leave the state of Minnesota one more time for a series at North Dakota in February.

Last weekend’s series against Providence will mark one of only two nonconference series in 2012-13. Aside from traveling to play Friars, the Beavers will host Maine of Hockey East on Nov. 9 and 10. The week before its series against the Black Bears, Bemidji State will play its only exhibition of the season in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Classic against the Minnesota Whitecaps in Eveleth, Minn.

About Last Year
The 2011-12 Bemidji State women’s hockey season was a memorable one. The Beavers finished with a 17-17-3 record, setting a program record for wins in a single season. BSU also topped its best WCHA win total by winning 11 conference contests. Along the way, the Beavers achieved a top-ten national ranking for the first time ever, checking as high as No. 7. After beating and tying Providence in the first week of the season, Bemidji State at least received votes in every poll through the end of the season.

The Beavers first vaulted into national rankings when they defeated eventual national champion Minnesota on Oct. 28. The loss was one of four in regulation for the Gophers on the season. BSU recorded at least one win against every squad in the WCHA except regular-season champion Wisconsin and finished 6-0-1 in nonconference play. Bemidji State finished in sixth place in the conference and went on to get eliminated in the first round of the league playoffs against North Dakota in two low-scoring, two-goal games. 

Behind the Bench

Accomplished head coach Steve Sertich returns for a seventh season behind the BSU bench and enters this weekend with a 65-128-27 record. Assistants Shane Veenker (sixth season) and Amber Fryklund (second season) join Sertich, along with strength and conditioning student assistant Kailey Cox (second season) and student Tegan Rose, who played for the team as a freshman last year.

Oh Captain, My Captain

This year’s BSU hockey team will enter the season with an average age of 20.1, consisting of eight seniors, five juniors, eight sophomores, and seven freshmen. Leading the team as captains will be senior forward and fourth-year defenseman Erika Wheelhouse, a 2012 USA Women’s Hockey Festival invitee and sister of 2011-12 senior Marlee Wheelhouse. Wearing the “A” as assistant captain will be MacKenzie Thurston, a two-way forward who posted a career-high 15 points (1g-15a) last season. 

Preseason Picks
After a sixth-place finish in 2011-12, the Beavers were slotted in the same spot in the WCHA Coaches Poll, which was released two weeks ago. The top five teams were Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota (tied for second), Minnesota Duluth, and Ohio State. BSU was picked ahead of the Buckeyes for a fifth-place finish in the’s season preview. Both Minnesota State and St. Cloud State were picked to finish behind the Beavers in both set of picks. North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were listed as the top three teams, respectively, in’s preview.