Bemidji State (6-18-2, 5-16-1-0 WCHA)
at North Dakota (18-10-0, 13-9-0-0 WCHA)
Fri., Feb. 8, 2013, 7:07 p.m. (CT)
Sat., Feb. 9, 2013, 7:07 p.m. (CT)
Location: Ralph Engelstad Arena (11,634), Grand Forks, N.D.
Series History: North Dakota leads 26-18-3
Last Time Out
After taking a week off between series, Bemidji State came out ready to prove that their series sweep at the hands of Ohio State in October in which the Buckeyes outscored the Beavers by a combined 14-2 was an aberration. In the series opener, Natasha Kostenko got BSU on the board and the Beavers carried a 1-0 lead into the third, but OSU’s Tina Hollowell knotted the score with 15:27 to play and Ally Tarr won it 41 seconds into overtime to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 win. The following day, Kostenko gave Bemidji State a 1-0 second-period lead again, but Ohio State’s Julia McKinnon evened things up 66 seconds later. The Beavers broke through in the third to earn a 2-1 victory when MacKenzie Thurston scored on the power play. Abby Ryplanski made 22 saves.
BSU vs. North Dakota
Bemidji State is 18-26-3 against UND all-time and has lost six in a row. North Dakota is 15-9-1 against the Beavers on home ice.
About North Dakota
Ninth-ranked North Dakota enters the weekend at 18-10-0 with a 13-9-0-0 WCHA ledger, coming off its first-ever road sweep of Minnesota State. North Dakota is led by senior Jocelyn Lamoureux and her 55 points (30g-25a) and +25 rating. Lamoureux’s twin sister, Monique, has 45 points (16g-29a) as a senior, good for second on the team. Next on the list are sophomore Josefine Jokobsen (14g-22a), junior Michelle Karvinen (11g-24a), and freshman Meghan Dufault (12g-13a). Between the pipes, Shelby Amsley-Benzie and Jorid Dagfinrud have shared the net. Amsley-Benzie is 11-6-0 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .903 save percentage in 15 starts, while Dagfinrud (2.20, .901) is 7-4-0 in 11 starts. Each goalie has two shutouts.
After racking up 12 blocks last weekend against Ohio State, Erika Wheelhouse now has 114 blocks on the season, at least 54 more than anyone else in the country. Not all school track individual blocked shots, but Wheelhouse has averaged 5.43 blocks per game in contests in which they have (21 of 25 games; excluding road series against Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth). Also high in the block rankings are juniors Tess Dusik and Alex Ehlert, with 47 and 46, respectively. Dusik is eight in Division I, while Ehlert sits in a five-way tie for ninth. As a team, BSU owns the national lead with 427 total blocks.
On the Draw
One area in which the Beavers have excelled this season is in the faceoff circle. BSU is seventh nationally in faceoff win percentage at 55.5 percent. This weekend’s opponent, North Dakota, is sixth at 56.6 percent. Individually, Emily Erickson is second in the country in faceoff percentage with a personal 68.0 percent mark while Natasha Kostenko is third at 67.6 mark. Erickson and Kostenko lead the WCHA with those numbers. UND captain Jocelyn Lamoureux has an NCAA-high 462 faceoff wins this season.
Kostenko vs. Ohio State
Natasha Kostenko opened the scoring in both games last week against Ohio State, giving her a six-game point steak against the Buckeyes. The sophomore forward found the back of the net in all four meetings against OSU this season and now has points in nine of her last 11 games overall. The Beavers were shut out in the two games in which she did not record a point.
Erickson Nearing Milestone
Redshirt senior Emily Erickson notched at least a point in the team’s first four games of 2013 and now has 90 for her career. The Beavers have eight six regular-season games to go and at least two playoff games. If Erickson can notch 10 or more points in that time, she’d be the fourth player in program history to hit the 100-point plateau. She is tied for third in team history with 43 career goals.
Erika Wheelhouse enters the weekend with 50 career points, one shy of her sister, Marlee’s, mark. Wheelhouse is also one of five BSU defenders with 10 or more career goals. Fellow senior Sadie Lundquist is one game-winning goal shy of tying Erin Cody’s all-time mark of eight and is tied with Franny Dorr and current teammate MacKenzie Thurston for ninth in program history with 126 consecutive games played.
The BSU women’s hockey team is entering the final three weeks of the regular season and this stretch could prove to be the toughest of them all. This week, the Beavers will visit No. 9 North Dakota and will follow that with series versus undefeated, top-ranked Minnesota and then a home series against No. 8 Wisconsin. Against its remaining opponents, BSU is 1-4-1 (1-0-1 against Wisconsin). The Beavers went 3-5-0 in February last year and are 27-70-8 all-time in the month. They are 1-1-0 so far this February.
Thinking Outside the Box
Thanks in large part to penalty-free games against Maine and Minnesota State, BSU has had streaks of 110:49 and 69:10 without a penalty this season. The Beavers are the second-least penalized team in the nation with just 6.7 penalty minutes per game. Only Quinnipiac (6.1 penalty minutes per game) has fewer.
Seniors Leading the Way
Bemidji State’s senior class has led the way so far in points this season, scoring 50 of the team’s 114 points (43.9 percent). Second on the list are the sophomores, which have 30 total points. The freshman class is next with 24 points, while the juniors (five players, all of whom have played defense) have 10.
Power Outage Over
Bemidji State went from Dec. 2 through Feb. 1 (nine full games) without a power-play goal before MacKenzie Thurston gave BSU the decisive tally in a 2-1 last Saturday with 49 seconds left on a late-game advantage. The Beavers 0-for-39 drought tied a program record from a streak that carried over from 2006-07 to 2007-08. BSU went 64:35 on the man-advantage without scoring. During the stretch, BSU’s conversion percentage has dipped from 15.6 percent to 9.7 percent (it is now at 10.6), forcing the team to score 15 consecutive times either at even strength or with a pulled goaltender and extra attacker.
Though BSU struggled in the first half of the season, the team was able to win or tie half of its eight road games, going 3-4-1. The Beavers beat Providence, Wisconsin, and Minnesota State away from home and also posted a tie against the Badgers in the same series. Bemidji State kept the to start 2013 with a split at St. Cloud State before being swept on the road for just the second time this year at Minnesota Duluth three weeks ago.
Let’s Start the Show Proper, Shall We?
Though Bemidji State is 6-18-2 on the season, the team is 5-5-1 in games in which it scores first. The Beavers have carried leads into the third period six times this season and are 3-3-1 when doing so. BSU scored first last week in both games of a split against Ohio State.
Seniors Sadie Lundquist and MacKenzie Thurston have played in 126 of 126 possible college games. On BSU’s roster, only redshirt seniors Emily Erickson and Abby Williams (132 each) have played more, but both players have missed games. 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. She has played in every game since, however.
By not allowing a goal from the third period of a Dec. 8 loss to Minnesota until the first period of a Jan. 12 tilt against Minnesota State, Jessica Havel posted the second-longest shutout streak in program history, making 35 saves during a 132:53 goal-free span. The longest streak was a 149:30 run by 2011-12 senior and All-American Zuzana Tomcikova that went from Oct. 29, 2010-Nov. 6, 2010.
On Jan. 12, Bemidji State trailed 3-0 heading into the third period before rallying to force overtime. It was the seventh time in program in program history the team came back to tie the score after trailing by three goals or more and it was just the third time BSU did so facing a three-goal deficit entering the third period. The last time that happened was in a 3-3 tie against North Dakota Oct. 20, 2002.
The first half of Bemidji State’s season included some highs and lows. Despite its 3-13-2 record, BSU did become the first team to score (with a Kristin Huber goal) and win at Wisconsin’s brand-new LaBahn Arena. Abby Ryplanski pitched a shutout in a 1-0 victory Oct. 19. The Beavers also recorded their first-ever win the day following U.S. Thanksgiving with a Nov. 23 triumph over Minnesota State. The Beavers were previously 0-5-2 in such games. BSU also posted its first third-period comeback since Nov. 5, 2005 when it rallied to top Providence 3-2 Oct. 5 in the season-opener and had its first penalty-free game since Nov. 4, 2011 in a 2-2 tie Nov. 10 Maine. Also in the first half, Alex Ehlert, Kayleigh Chapman, Megan Lushanko, Kaitlyn Tougas, Hanna Moher, Ivana Bilic, and Lauren Merkley also recorded first career goals and every player on the roster saw playing time in at least one game. For its only exhibition contest, BSU played in its fourth U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Face Off Classic Nov 1. 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. and improved to 2-1-0 in exhibition games against the Whitecaps.
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 USCHO.com’s season preview. Bemidji State currently sits in seventh place.
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. BSU also finished 6-0-1 in nonconference play.