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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: BSU looks to steal some points from No. 1 Gophers

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BEMIDJI — After nearly two seasons as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country, the scouting report on the Minnesota women’s hockey team hasn’t changed much.

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“Well, I hear they’re pretty good, that’s the latest scouting report,” BSU head coach Steve Sertich said with a knowing smile during Tuesday’s press conference.

Since BSU (9-16-3, 6-14-2-1) last played Minnesota Oct. 25-26 the Gophers have seen their historic 62-game winning streak snapped by archrivals North Dakota and have even done the unthinkable and tied Ohio State 2-2.

Despite the single loss and tie Sertich knows taking any points from the Gophers (26-1-1, 20-1-1 WCHA) this weekend in Minneapolis will still be a tough task.

“We know we’re going to have to play a near-perfect game to get some points from them,” Sertich said. “They have good depth, speed and skill. They’re, I think, one of the few teams that can throw three good lines at you instead of two.

“It’s a daunting task to say the least but if we play like we did saturday we’ll give them a run for their money.”

The Beavers have a history of playing tough against the Gophers.

In the Oct. 26 game in Bemidji, the Beavers tied the game 3-3 thanks to a third-period Hanna Moher goal before a late tally by Minnesota’s Hannah Brandt helped the Gophers pull away.

And last season in Minneapolis the Beavers led Minnesota 2-1 before a Gopher rally sent it to overtime, where they eventually won 3-2.

“We have a pretty good history of playing them close,” BSU senior defenseman Danielle Williams said. “All of the four years I’ve been here we always play them hard and they always tell us they hate playing us because we play so well against them. So hopefully we can steal some points from them.”

Last weekend against Minnesota-Duluth the Beavers played four good periods of hockey — one on Friday and three on Saturday — but still lost both games.

“I think we’re all disappointed how we played Friday,” senior forward Tess Dusik said. ‘We didn’t put together a full game but we turned it around for sure Saturday…. this weekend we’ll need to play 60 minutes like we did Saturday against UMD. Hopefully we can sneak away with a few points.”

Dusik scored a shorthanded goal in Friday’s game and had some great chances Saturday — five shots on net, including two breakaway chances. In general Sertich said the Beavers were getting more chances than they have been, which is encouraging.

“I always tell kids, if they’re getting chances that’s a good sign,” he said. “If you’re not getting shots or scoring chances than they should be scratching their heads. But they’re getting some good looks. I like what I see out of our forward lines. Weather or not we can finish against good goaltending remains to be seen.”

Following the sweep to UMD the Beavers are now in sixth place in the league with 21 points. Ohio State is fifth with 25 after sweeping St. Cloud State. With fourth place and home ice advantage for the playoffs out of reach BSU’s new goal, with six games to play, is to pass OSU.

“It’d be nice to get five,” Sertich said. “We’d like to pass Ohio. I’m not sure if that’s a better matchup for us — I guess it depends on what happens in the top of the league — but I think it would be a definite goal for us down the stretch.”

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
(218) 333-9772
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