BEMIDJI, Minn. – The Bemidji State University women’s hockey team is ready to open the 2016-17 season on the road at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y. Puck drop for game one is scheduled for at 6 p.m. CT, Sep. 30 followed by game two at 2 p.m. CT, Oct. 1.
Beavers look to build upon record-setting season
Bemidji State will look to build off of a record setting 2015-16 season after the Beavers set program records in wins (22), conference wins (17) and had their highest ever finish in the WCHA regular season standings (3rd). The Beavers finished the season 22-11-3 (17-9-2-1 WCHA) but were eliminated in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs by University of Minnesota Duluth. BSU got the best of the Bulldogs during the regular season however, and swept UMD in all four games for the first time in program history.
Senior goaltender Brittni Mowat also set numerous individual records throughout the season including becoming the program’s career wins leader (51). She tied her own record for the lowest goals against average in a season (1.68) and is currently the school’s career goals against (1.93) and save percentage (.934) leader.
Bemidji State returns 18 letterwinners from the 2015-16 season but lose four of its top five scorers to graduation. However, the Beavers return five of their starting six defensemen as well as 2015-16 All-WCHA Second Team goaltender, Mowat. BSU finished fourth in the WCHA in scoring defense last season.
Junior defenseman Alexis Joyce is the leading scorer returning from last season after leading the Beavers’ defense with 20 points (8g-12a). Joyce finished fourth overall in scoring and tied for ninth for all defensemen in the WCHA. The Lakeville, Minn., native also tied for second for goals among defensemen in the WCHA.
Returning for their senior season are captain Madison Hutchinson and assistant captains Lauren Miller, Carley Esse and Mowat. Hutchinson will captain the 2016-17 Beaver squad after totaling 13 points (3g-10a) during her junior season and finishing third in the WCHA with 70 blocked shots. Miller will lead a forward unit after tying for third on the team with eight goals in 2015-16. Miller finished sixth in scoring on the team (16pts) and went +8 during the season. Esse is one of four defensemen that saw action in all 36 games last season and registered her second career point. Mowat is returning as an All-WCHA Second Team member and finished third in the WCHA in save percentage (.938) and fourth in goals against (1.68).
Notable contributors also returning for the 2016-17 season are Emma Terres, Reilly Fawcett, Summer Thibodeau, Ciscely Nelson, Bailey Wright, Emily Bergland and Melissa Hunt.
Beavers picked to finish fifth in WCHA
The Bemidji State University women’s hockey team was voted to finish fifth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) 2016-17 standings, as voted on by WCHA coaches.
Defending league regular season and back-to-back playoff champion University of Wisconsin is the preseason pick of conference coaches to finish atop the women’s WCHA standings in 2016-17. The Badgers edged out defending national champion University of Minnesota in the poll of the eight WCHA head coaches. University of North Dakota finished third in the voting while Minnesota Duluth edged the Beavers by three votes to finish fourth.
A Look At The Orange
The Orange start the new season as the College Hockey America (CHA) preseason favorite and received one vote in the USCHO.com poll, Sept. 19. This weekend will be the opening series for Syracuse, but SU played University of Montreal in an exhibition game, Sept. 24. The Orange fell to Montreal, 3-2 in overtime, despite outshooting them, 34-22.
Syracuse returns 15 letterwinners from the previous season including leading scorer Stephanie Grossi (14g-22a=36). The Orange were the second highest scoring offense (2.67) in the CHA in 2015-16 and finished third (2.14) in scoring defense. Syracuse had the second best special teams unit last season with a power play percentage of .143 (3rd) and penalty kill of .862 (2nd).
Grossi led the Orange’s attack and also finished second in the conference in scoring behind Robert Moriss’ Brittany Howard. Also returning to the team is second leading scorer Jessica Sibley. Sibley finished fourth in the CHA in scoring with 30 points (12g-18a). In all, the Orange return three of their top five scoring in Grossi, Sibley and Alysha Burriss but lose their leading goal scorer Nicole Ferrara (14g) as well as 30-point scorer Melissa Piacentini (9g-21a).
The Orange lose their starting goaltender from last season in Jenn Gilligan. Gilligan led the team with 32 starts and finished third in the CHA with a 2.03 goals against but had finished last (7th) in save percentage (.902). Gilligan had the second best record in the CHA, 16-13-3, and led the team with two shutouts.
The opening weekend will mark the first time that these two teams will have met. The Syracuse hockey program was started in the 2008-09 season and is 121-129-30 (.473) all-time.
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).