Women's hockey: Beavers begin 2014 Saturday at Minnesota St.
BEMIDJI — The BSU women’s hockey team played well in 2013 — at least, the Beavers played just about as well as any team that faced three top-five ranked teams can play.
The Beavers (7-9-2, 4-7-1 WCHA) kick off the 2014 portion of their season today with a conference series at Minnesota State Mankato.
Head coach Steve Sertich said despite a positive result against the Mavericks the last time the teams met — BSU swept with 4-1 and 3-2 wins Nov. 15-16 — BSU can’t take anything for granted.
“They’re a tough team to play against,” Sertich said. “We had good luck against them earlier but the second half is a different animal. They’re lucky to get to play a couple games (earlier) this week. I’m a little nervous going in just because we haven’t played for a while.”
The Mavs (8-12-0, 3-11-0) played Lindenwood in a midweek series Tuesday and Wednesday and swept the Lions in Mankato; they also played UND Dec. 12 and 14.
The Beavers, meanwhile, haven’t played since a pair of losses at No. 2 Wisconsin Dec. 6 and 7, giving them an extended break.
“That’s going to be the key, getting an edge,” Sertich said. “We want to get back to that game edge. You can’t quite get there unless you play but that’s what we’ve been working on.”
Sertich said he expects everyone on the team to be back healthy, including freshman goaltender Brittni Mowat, who missed the Wisconsin series with mononucleosis.
Senior captain Allie Duellman said she was excited to have the rest of the team back on the ice.
“Everyone looks healthy in practice. I think the long break helped us with injuries,” the defender said.
In the previous series against the Mavericks, Duellman had a goal and an assist.
Hannah Moher — who leads the Beavers with seven goals — and Rachel Kelly both scored twice while Mowat started both games, making a combined 48 saves to earn the six points.
“We did already play them once, so we know what to expect,” Duellman said. “But with every game in our league it doesn’t really matter what we did before.”
“They’re as good as we are,” Sertich said of the Mavericks. “They have some players who are very dangerous. Their goaltender has been good this year. They’re similar to us, in that they’ve struggled scoring goals but have a couple kids that can win a game for them.”
Currently BSU is in fifth place with 14 points, behind fourth-place Duluth (26 points) but ahead of the sixth-place Mavericks (9 points).
A sweep this weekend will not only put some distance between BSU and MSU but it should give the Beavers at least a decent shot at home-ice advantage. BSU has played just 12 conference games compared to UMD’s 16 and MSU’s 14.