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Bemidji State women's hockey team looks to build on last season's success

Bemidji State women's hockey players Emily Erickson, left, and Montana Vichorek celebrate a goal last season at John Glas Fieldhouse in Bemidji. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, Bemidji State women's head coach Steve Sertich said his team is going through what amounts to another routine offseason.

"Heather Farrell, our assistant coach, has put together a great offseason workout program and that's one reason why we had success last year," said Sertich, who was last year's WCHA coach of the year. "We have many of the kids doing that or are with personal trainers again this summer."

The BSU women recently took a tour of their new home at the Bemidji Regional Event Center to get an advance look at their new digs.

"We were able to get in and see our locker room and the players really loved it. They were really excited," Sertich said.

Unlike the BSU men, the BSU women are no strangers to WCHA league play. Bemidji State was a charter member of the league in 1998-99.

The Beavers finished 12-19-7 overall last season and fifth in the WCHA standings, which marked the highest finish in program history.

BSU went on to defeat St. Cloud State in the first round of the playoffs before losing to eventual national champion Minnesota-Duluth in the WCHA Final Face-Off.

"Hopefully we can build on that next year," Sertich said. "We know it's going to be tough because some of the Olympians are going to be back on other teams and the league is going to be tougher in many respects."

Bemidji State returns an Olympian of its own in goalie Zuzana Tomcikova.

Tomcikova was the WCHA's co-player of the year and played for Slovakia at the Vancouver Olympics last winter.

Also returning are top scorers Erin Cody, Annie Bauerfeld, Erin Johnson and Montana Vichorek.

Vichorek was named to the Team USA under-22 select team last month.

The Beavers are set to open the season Sept. 24 in an exhibition against the Toronto Jr. Aeros. That game will likely be played at the Bemidji Community Arena.

From there BSU will open the regular season with back-to-back road trips at Wayne State and Wisconsin before returning home to face Mercyhurst in its first regular season home game at the BREC Oct. 15.

Mercyhurst played in the national championship game in 2009 and reached the Frozen Four last season.

"It's going to be a tough schedule and the WCHA schedule speaks for itself," Sertich said. "We're also excited about having the Minnesota Whitecaps come to town. They'll have some Olympians from the United States, Sweden and Finland on that team."

The two teams will meet in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame game Oct. 22 in Eveleth and wrap up the two-game set Oct. 23 at the BREC.