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Bemidji State weekend sports preview: Beaver women's hockey hosts No. 2 Minnesota, basketball teams in home action

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The Bemidji State women's hockey, basketball and track teams are all in competition this weekend in Bemidji.

The BSU women's hockey team hosts No. 2 ranked Minnesota at 6:07 p.m. Friday and 4:07 p.m. Saturday at John Glas Fieldhouse.

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The BSU basketball teams face Northern State on Friday and Mary on Saturday at BSU Gymnasium. Women tip-off at 6 p.m. with the men following at 8 p.m.

The Bemidji State track and field teams host the Super 8 Open at Gillett Recreation/Fitness Center. The meet starts at 7 p.m. Friday and resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday with the regular meet beginning at 1 p.m.

The Bemidji State women's hockey team (7-11-4 overall, 6-6-4-3 WCHA) host the league's top team in the Gophers this weekend.

It is a rematch of a mid-November series that saw Minnesota sweep Bemidji State by 4-2 and 3-1 scores.

This weekend marks the final time BSU goalie Zuzana Tomcikova will play at home before the Vancouver Olympic Games, where she will backstop the Slovakian team.

She currently has the fourth best goals against average (2.09) and second best save percentage (.937) in the WCHA.

She will need to outperform the league's best goalie in Minnesota Finnish freshman Noora Raty, who has the league's best goals against average (0.89) and save percentage (.965).

Erin Cody (11 goals), Erin Johnson (10 goals) and Annie Bauerfeld (4 goals) continue to pace BSU's offense. The trio are the only three players on the team with more than 10 points on the team this season.

Minnesota's offense is led by 2008 Bemidji High School graduate Sarah Erickson. She ranks sixth in WCHA scoring with 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points.

The BSU women are enjoying a resurgent season and currently stand in fourth in the conference standings with 19 points, just two points out of the second place tie between Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin.

Since a thrilling 88-87 overtime road victory at No. 17 Winona State early in December, winning has been elusive for the Beavers (5-9 overall, 2-6 NSIC).

Bemidji State will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak this weekend.

"It's been a frustrating stretch and yet we're not playing that bad," BSU head coach Matt Bowen said. "The reality is that we are a team that has changed a lot and we're working out a ton of kinks."

Bowen credited the win over Winona to a good matchup and the losing streak to bad matchups against teams with a strong post presence. It has also been an adjustment period since Bowen suspended of Sergej Baskow, Brady Fairbanks and Jimmy Johnson indefinitely for violating BSU's student-athlete code of conduct.

"Teams are starting to figure us out," Bowen said. "When we started the season we were tall, we had experience and we had depth. Now we're small and we don't have any depth because we're subbing in freshmen and sophomores. Now I know I made that happen. But I stand behind my decision and the kids we have here are doing a great job."

Senior guard Seth Haake has been BSU's leader and offensive star throughout the season. He currently ranks sixth in NSIC scoring average with 17.4 points per game.

"He's what we want this program to be about," Bowen said. "He's been here all four years and he's playing like a senior should play: he gives the team confidence and experience. Not all seniors are going to have the year he is having right now. He's fun to watch right now."

Northern State enters the weekend 5-9 overall (1-6 NSIC) and U-Mary is 9-5 overall (5-2 NSIC). Bowen called Mary the "surprise team" of the NSIC through the first half.

BSU women's basketball

After winning four straight games to close out the first half of the season, the BSU women's basketball team (9-6 overall, 3-5 NSIC) has struggled to open 2010.

The Beavers are 1-4 in the first four games of the new year, with the only win coming two weeks ago in an 83-79 win over Wayne State.

The Beavers were swept last weekend on the road by No. 23 Concordia-St. Paul and St. Cloud State.

In that loss to St. Cloud State, Taylor Davis scored 31 points.

BSU may just be fighting through some growing pains as four of the projected starters this weekend are freshmen.

But those freshmen are turning in solid seasons so far.

Center Jessie Althoff has started in every conference game so far this season and center Emily Kaus is second in the league (20th in the nation) with an average of 2.20 blocks per game.

Northern State enters the weekend 7-7 overall (3-4 NSIC) and Mary is 5-9 overall (1-6 NSIC).

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