Beavers wrap up first half by hosting No. 1 Minnesota
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Beavers wrap up first half by hosting No. 1 Minnesota

No. 1 Minnesota at Bemidji State
Sat., Dec. 7, 2012, 7 p.m. (CT)
Sun., Dec. 8, 2012, 4 p.m. (CT)
 Sanford Center (4,373), Bemidji, Minn.
Series History:
 Minnesota leads 48-4-6

Last Time Out
Last weekend, Bemidji State hosted perennial power Minnesota Duluth and lost both games in a Saturday-Sunday series. In the first game, the Beavers jumped out to a 2-0 second-period lead on goals by freshmen Ivana Bilic and Megan Lushanko, causing UMD to replace goaltender Sofia Carlstrom with Kayla Black. Black went on to stop the final 21 BSU shots and the Bulldogs rallied for one goal in the second period and three in the third to win 4-2. The teams played evenly in Sunday’s rematch, but UMD was able to get the only goal in both the first and second periods before making it 3-0 early in the third. Natasha Kostenko scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season to cut the deficit to two, but the Bulldogs tacked on another goal to seal the 4-1 victory.

BSU vs. Minnesota
Minnesota holds a 48-4-6 advantage in the all-time series with Bemidji State. The Beavers went 1-2-1 against the Gophers last season and their lone win vaulted them into the top-10 of national rankings for the first time ever.

About the Gophers
Defending national champion Minnesota enters the weekend undefeated at 18-0-0 with 12 wins in 12 WCHA games. The Gophers, who have won 26 straight games dating back to last season, are coming off a momentous sweep of border rival Wisconsin. No. 1 Minnesota leads the nation in goals for, scoring defense, power play, and penalty kill.  The Gophers are led up front by national points leaders Amanda Kessel (22g-26a) and Hanna Brandt (18g-27a), while defenseman Megan Bozek has 26 points (8g-18a). Between the pipes, Noora Räty is 16-0-0 with seven shutouts, a 0.73 goals against average, and a .963 save percentage.

There’s a First
A week after Ivana Bilic recorded her first collegiate goal and senior netminder Jessica Havel earned her first-ever WCHA win, freshman Megan Lushanko registered her first college goal against Minnesota Duluth last Friday. On the play, fellow first-year forward Hanna Moher and sophomore Alex Citrowske both posted their first-career assists. Citrowske’s helper was the first point of her career. Also, on the subject of firsts, BSU is still in search of its home win, entering the week with at 0-7-1 at the Sanford Center.

The Most Dangerous Lead in Hockey
Last Friday, BSU surrendered a 2-0 lead against Minnesota Duluth. It was the third game in which the Beavers have earned a two-goal lead and the eventual 4-2 loss sank their record in such games to 1-2-0—the opponent has at least come back to tie the score in each game. This weekend’s opponent, Minnesota, has trailed for only 39 seconds all season through 18 games.

In the Cage
Freshman goaltender Alexane Rodrigue made her first collegiate start between the pipes last Saturday, taking the loss after making 29 saves on 33 shots. Also last week, BSU pulled its goalie for the sixth time (Friday) and allowed its first empty-net goal.

Thinking Outside the Box
Bemidji State had its first penalty-free game since Nov. 4, 2011 in a 2-1 road loss to Minnesota State against Maine earlier this season. Overall, BSU went 110:49 without a penalty between a Kristin Huber tripping call in the series opener against the Black Bears and an Ivana Bilic slash in the second period of Nov. 18’s tilt against North Dakota. Even after getting as many as 14 penalty minutes for the second time this year (tying a season-high) last Sunday, the Beavers are tied for being the second-least penalized team in the nation with just 7.1 penalty minutes per game. They are tied with Union and only Quinnipiac (6.0 per game) has less.

Iron Women
Nov. 18 against North Dakota, senior Erika Wheelhouse missed a game for the first time in her collegiate career after playing 111 in a row. Fellow seniors Sadie Lundquist and MacKenzie Thurston have played in 116 of 116 possible college games. On BSU’s roster, only redshirt seniors Emily Erickson and Abby Williams (124 each) have played more, but both players have missed games. The only other players on the team not to have missed a career game are freshmen Kaitlyn Tougas, Hanna Moher, and Megan Lushanko, who have played in all 16 games in their first year this year.

Seniors Leading the Way
Bemidji State’s senior class has led the way so far in points this season, scoring 32 of the team’s 72 points (44.4 percent). Second on the list are the freshmen, which have 19 total points. The sophomore class is next with 16 points, while the juniors (five players, all of whom are defensemen) have seven.

On the Docket
As usual, Bemidji State’s schedule is a tough one in 2012-13. The Beavers are slated to play 18 games against teams with recognition in this week’s national poll. BSU finished its nonconference schedule with a 1-2-1 record and will play its final 22 (16 remaining) games of the year against WCHA foes.

Two Months Down
Bemidji State finished the month of October with a 2-5-1 record. Six of its eight games were played on the road. BSU was 6-2-1 in October last season. In November, the Beavers went 1-4-1 this season after going 4-3-0 in 2011. Bemidji State played two of its four games—all at home—in December last week against Minnesota Duluth and will wrap up the month this weekend against Minnesota.

Lundquist Lights it Up
Sadie Lundquist had a breakout game at Minnesota State Nov. 23. The senior captain assisted on BSU’s first three goals and scored the game-winner in the third period. Entering the game, BSU hadn’t scored more than three goals in a game and no player had recorded more than two points. She was also a +2.

Player of the Week
After a two-point weekend against Maine, Kaitlyn Tougas was named the WCHA Rookie of the Week three weeks ago. The last BSU player to earn a conference player of the week honor was Montana Vichorek, who took home the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week award for the week of Feb. 22, 2012. Rachael Kelly was the last Beaver to receive a WCHA weekly top rookie honor when she won it for the second time in her freshman campaign on Jan. 11, 2012. Tougas is seventh among WCHA rookies in scoring.

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game
Three weeks ago, Bemidji State played in its fourth U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Face Off Classic. With a 3-2 overtime win over the Minnesota Whitecaps, the Beavers moved to 2-2-0 in the annual event that is played at the Eveleth Hippodrome in Eveleth, Minn. In three all-time exhibition contests against the Whitecaps, BSU is 2-1-0.

With a 1-0 loss to St. Cloud on Oct. 13 and a 1-0 win against Wisconsin the following Friday, BSU played in back-to-back 1-0 games for the first time since losing to Minnesota 1-0 on Dec. 1, 2007 and falling by the same score to SCSU seven days later.

Thanksgiving Weekend
Two weeks ago, BSU played its eighth U.S. Thanksgiving series in 15 years. Friday’s victory was the program’s first on the day following U.S. Thanksgiving. The Beavers were previously 0-5-2 in such games. They are now 4-9-3 in Thanksgiving weekend games.

Two Scores and Seven Years
Entering the third period against Providence in their season-opener, 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.

Preseason Picks
After a sixth-place finish in 2011-12, the Beavers were slotted in the same spot in the WCHA Coaches Poll. BSU, which was tabbed behind Ohio State by the coaches, was picked ahead of the Buckeyes for a fifth-place finish in the’s season preview.

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-10 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. BSU recorded at least one win against every squad it faced except regular-season champion Wisconsin. The Beavers also finished 6-0-1 in nonconference play.