BEMIDJI, Minn. – After a successful series with then ranked No. 4 Ohio State University, the Bemidji State University women’s hockey team hopes to carry that momentum into its road series with No. 1 University of Wisconsin. The Beavers (2-9-1, 2-5-1-0 WCHA) earned its first sweep of the season against the Buckeyes for the team’s first two wins. The Beavers clash with the top-ranked Badgers (11-1-0, 5-1-0-0 WCHA) at LaBahn Arena in Madison, Wisc., for a two-game series. Puck drop for game one of the series is slated for 7 p.m., Friday followed by game two at 2 p.m., Saturday.
The Beavers and Badgers meet for the 81st and 82nd meetings in the all-time series dating back to 1999. Wisconsin dominates the all-time series with a 71-5-4 record with the Beavers holding a 4-33-1 record in Madison. The Badgers are currently on a 15-game unbeaten streak (14-0-1) against the Beavers with BSU’s last win coming Jan. 16, 2015 in a 2-1 win in Madison. Bemidji State and Wisconsin last met at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Face-Off last season where the Badgers earned a 4-1 victory despite being tied 1-1 after the first period. Bemidji State went 0-3-1 during the regular season against Wisconsin. Senior Emily Bergland leads all active skaters with six career points (3g-3a) in 13 career games against the Badgers while Jacqueline Kaasa, Paige Beebe and Clair DeGeorge each have recorded three points. Five-year head coach Jim Scanlan is 1-16-1 coaching against the Badgers.
A Look At The Badgers
Wisconsin enters the weekend’s action tied for second in the WCHA standings with 15 points and boast a 5-1-0-0 league record. The Badgers are 11-1-0 overall and ranked No. 1 in the latest USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine national polls. Wisconsin had last weekend off but traveled to Minnesota State University, Mankato Nov. 2-3 and earned two wins against the Mavericks. The Badgers were led by junior Mekenzie Steffen who tallied three assists in the series while Abby Roque and Sophie Shirley each tallied a goal and assist.
The Badgers come into the weekend averaging the league’s most goals at 3.50 per game and also rank fifth in Division I. They also allow the league’s least amount of goals at 1.25 per game which is tied for the second lowest tally in the nation. Wisconsin is also one of the least penalized teams in the league and are tied for fifth with BSU by averaging just 6.2 penalty minutes per game. The Badgers power play has scored on 10-of-40 chances this season, the most power-play tallies in the WCHA, and rank second in the league with a .250 percentage. Wisconsin’s penalty kill ranks third in the WCHA at .882 percent and have killed off 30-of-34 chances.
Wisconsin is led by junior Abby Roque this season. Roque paces the Badgers’ offense with 16 points (6g-10a) and is second in the league with that tally. She is joined by the leagues’ leading rookie scorer in Sophie Shirley who has totaled 12 points (7g-5a) in 12 games. Senior Annie Pankowski rejoins the Badgers’ lineup this weekend after winning gold with Team USA at the Four Nations Cup. Pankowski is third on the team with 11 points (5g-6a) in 10 games this season. In net, the Badgers rely solely on junior Kristen Campbell who has started all 12 games for Wisconsin. Campbell leads the WCHA in wins (11), goals against average (1.21) and is fifth in save percentage (.932).
A Look at the Beavers
Bemidji State begins the weekend’s action after earning its first sweep of the season and first sweep of a ranked opponent since 2014 after posting two wins against then ranked No. 4 Ohio State. The Beavers defeated the Buckeyes by scores of 2-1 and 4-2 and were led by sophomore goaltender Kerigan Dowhy who stopped 70-of-73 shots and was awarded the WCHA Goaltender of the Week and NCAA First Star of the Week. Junior Abby Halluska and freshman Graysen Myers also earned league accolades and the two were named the league’s forward and rookie of the week, respectively. The Beavers travel to Madison with a 2-9-1 record and sixth in the league standings with seven points and a 2-5-1-0 league record.
The Beavers are struggling scoring and average just 1.67 goals per game to rank sixth in the league. They also struggle to stop opponents from scoring and average a league worst 3.42 goals allowed per game. BSU’s special teams have had better success and rank fifth and fourth on the power play and penalty kill, respectively. The Beavers have scored four power-play goals in 35 chances for a .114 percentage while their penalty kill have stopped 27-of-32 chances for a .844 percentage.
Bemidji State is led on offense by sophomore Clair DeGeorge and senior Emily Bergland. The pair have totaled six points in 12 games while DeGeorge leads the Beavers’ scorers with four goals this season. Bergland has posted two goals and four assists while junior Briana Jorde leads the team in assists with five. Sophomore Paige Beebe and junior Abby Halluska have each added five points this season to tie with Jorde for second on the team while junior Jacqueline Kaasa has four points (2g-2a). In the crease, the Beavers have split time between sophomores Lauren Bench and Kerigan Dowhy. Dowhy leads the team with a 2-4-0 record after a stellar weekend against Ohio State and now leads the team with a 3.13 goals against average and .891 saver percentage. Bench has posted a 0-5-1 record in net and sports a 3.17 goals against average and .883 save percentage.
Dowhy even added some offense for the Beavers and assisted on Bemidji State’s empty-net goal in game two against the Buckeyes and became the latest goaltender to record an assist since Brittni Mowat recorded an assist on Nov. 18, 2013 also against Ohio State.
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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).