BEMIDJI – The friendly confines of the Sanford Center have never looked so good to the Bemidji State women’s hockey team.
After two long road trips – to Wisconsin and to Ohio State – and a week off capped by an exhibition game in Eveleth, the Beavers will be glad to pull on their home white sweaters this weekend against Maine. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. today and Saturday.
“Oh man, it’s so nice to get home again,” BSU senior Sadie Lundquist said. “Especially after those last two trips… It’s a nine-hour bus ride to Madison and a long flight to Columbus, so it’s great to be here. It will be good motivation for us, I think.”
The Beavers come into this weekend’s nonconference series against the Black Bears (1-7-0) with a 2-5-1 overall record with some strange ups and downs.
The Beavers stormed into Madison Oct. 19-21 and spoiled the opening of the Badgers’ new LaBahn Arena, grabbing four points with a win and a tie.
But the next weekend – a trip to Ohio State – was disastrous.
The Buckeyes steamrolled the Beavers 4-1 and 10-1 in two games.
Head coach Steve Sertich was glad to get most of last week off. The Beavers did have an exhibition game against the Minnesota Whitecaps last Thursday, which they won 3-2 in overtime.,
“We needed a few days to recover from Ohio State, in many ways,” he said. “Not only getting pounded in the Saturday game, but the travel part was tough. We were really happy with our effort against the Whitecaps last week, so hopefully that will get us ready for nonconference.”
BSU rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 in overtime against the Whitecaps with goals from Lundquist, Alex Citrowske and Emily Erickson. Erickson’s goal in overtime proved to be the game-winner.
“I think a game like that gives people some confidence,” senior co-captain Lundquist said. “It was an opportunity for the younger players to play against some great competition and it was nice to get some people in good shape, to get people playing.”
Team points leader
The Beavers also hope that their return to the Sanford Center will be better than their first games there this season. St. Cloud State won both games in the Beavers’ home opener, winning 1-0 and 3-1. But overall the Beavers have played very well at home since the Sanford Center opened, with a record of 17-13-3.
“We hope that we will play a little better at home than we did last time we were here,” Sertich said. “Over the last two years really the Sanford center’s been awfully kind to us, and we’ve played well here. So we need to get back on track.”
Maine comes into the weekend struggling. The Black Bears’ lone win was a 3-2 Hockey East victory over Connecticut. They were most recently swept by Providence last weekend. The Beavers split with the Friars in their season-opening series.
Brittany Dougherty, who was Maine’s lone all-Hockey East selection last season, leads the Black Bears with nine points (2g-7a) while freshman Audra Richards has a team-best four goals in addition to one assist.
“I think they’re a lot like us,” Sertich said. “They’re a good team, not a great team. They have some dangerous forwards. One was all league last year (Dougherty). They’re going to be a solid team. I think they got off to a rocky start with the win-loss.”
Bemidji State swept Maine in their nonconference series last year in Orono, Maine, winning 3-2 in overtime and 7-0. Lundquist said she expects more of the same this year.
“We’ll be disappointed if we don’t come out of this weekend with two wins,” she said. “That’s what we expect going forward. It’s nonconference, too, so we’re looking to gain some more confidence from this weekend before we move into more serious conference games.”