BEMIDJI – Maybe it’s something about the change to the calendar, but the Bemidji State women are playing their best hockey of the season in 2013.
After a five-game losing streak that began in November, the Beavers have gone 2-2-0 in the New Year, splitting a pair of series (against St. Cloud State and Minnesota State) and even winning their first game at home this season.
BSU head coach Steve Sertich said the holiday break did his team some good.
“In the first half of the year we didn’t do well pointswise,” he said. “We had a bunch of games that were spotty at best.
“But we’ve played consistently hard since the break. Sometimes it’s more of a mental than a physical break, but it’s been good for us. And we’ll have to play hard down the stretch now that the competition heats up a little.”
The Beavers (5-15-2, 4-13-1 WCHA) travel to Duluth this weekend for a conference series against Minnesota-Duluth, where BSU will try and keep its run of good hockey rolling. The teams will face off at 7:07 p.m. today and tomorrow at AMSOIL Arena.
The Bulldogs (9-8-3, 8-7-1-0 WCHA) were part of BSU’s pre-holidays losing streak. UMD came to the Sanford Center Dec. 1-2 and swept the Beavers, 4-2 and 4-1. In the Dec. 1 game, BSU had a 2-0 lead but let the Bulldogs score four unanswered goals to capture the win.
Although the Beavers are just 3-54-2 all time against the Bulldogs, BSU forward Emily Erickson said BSU’s mindset is different than it was just a month ago.
“The break did us some good,” said Erickson, who has scored two goals and tallied two assists in BSU’s four games in 2013. “I think we have a little more jump now than we did in the first half of the year.”
In last weekend’s series against Minnesota State, the Beavers showed two sides of their game – the dominant, defensive masterpiece and the resilient comeback artists.
In Friday’s game, goaltender Jessica Havel helped backstop a 2-0 shutout win over the Mavs. The Beavers limited MSU to just 10 shots on goal and blocked 23 more shots for the win.
On Saturday, BSU played a sluggish first 50 minutes of hockey before clicking in the final 10, rallying from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime. The Beavers lost 4-3 but Sertich said it just showed how well the team is playing in the season’s second half.
“Obviously we were disappointed we didn’t get all six points against Mankato,” Sertich said. “But it was a great comeback. It might have one of the greatest comebacks I think I’ve seen at Bemidji State since I’ve been around.
“I think we’ve always been lucky with pretty resilient players here,” Sertich continued. “They don’t give up.”
Minnesota-Duluth is coming off a sweep of St. Cloud State that featured 11 UMD goals in two games - including a four-goal effort by Jamie Kenyon. The Bulldogs are unbeaten since November.
“There aren’t too many surprises when you play a team the second time around,” Sertich said. “We know how skilled they are. I know they’ve shuffled some stuff around, moved (All-American defenseman Jessica Wong) up front a bit. But they have some great forwards and strong goaltending. We know what we’re up against.”