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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Gophers show why they’re No. 1 with impressive 5-1 win over Bemidji State

Bemidji State’s Rachael Kelly (18) battles Minnesota’s Lee Stecklein (2) and Bethany Brausen (16, back) for possession during the first period Friday night at the Sanford Center. BSU Photo Services

BEMIDJI – Top-ranked Minnesota showed it is deserving of its ranking in a 5-1 win over the Bemidji State women’s hockey team Friday at the Sanford Center.

After not scoring for over 30 minutes, the defending national champions exploded for five goals in the final period and a half.

The Beavers began the game by out-shooting the Gophers 7-2, but had nothing to show for it.

“We wanted to come out and out-work them,” senior forward Emily Erickson said. “We knew they were going to come hard, so we wanted to take control and get some pucks on net right away.”

Minnesota controlled the puck in the final four minutes of the period and gained a 9-8 lead in shots after one frame.

The shots margin could have been wider if not for the Beaver defenders blocking shots.

“Blocking shots has always been a major aspect of Beaver hockey,” Erickson said. “We knew we had to be tough in front of the net.”

After failing to capitalize on the Beavers’ first two penalties of the game, the Gophers got on the board when Hannah Brandt scored her 19th goal of the season on a power play.

Less than two minutes later, Lee Stecklein scored a short-handed goal for Minnesota to make it a quick two-goal advantage.

Meghan Lorence added a goal a third goal in less than four minutes to give the Gophers a 3-0 lead with 5:42 remaining in the second period.

“They are a good team, we knew that coming in,” Erickson said. “They move the puck so well, that is what makes them great.”

Minnesota took its 3-0 lead to the locker room for the second intermission.

BSU began the third period on a power play, but could not capitalize.

Megan Bozek quickly followed up the penalty kill with a slap shot from behind the blue line to put Minnesota ahead 4-0.

Amanda Kessel helped on the goal for her third assist of the night and 29th on the season.

Becky Kortum scored on a break-away with 10:19 left to play for the Gophers fifth goal.

The Beavers finally got on the board with 3:28 left thanks to Kirstin Huber’s second goal of the season. Natasha Kostenko picked up the assist.

BSU saw a couple more opportunities, but just as it was all game, was denied by Minnesota goaltender Noora Raty.

Raty made 26 saves on the night.

BSU senior Jessica Havel stopped 29 shots, including 13 in the third period.

Bemidji State (3-12-2 2-10-1) looks to bounce back and hand undefeated Minnesota (19-0-0 13-0-0 WCHA) its first loss today in the series finale at 4:07 p.m.

“From the first face-off on, we have to out-work them,” Erickson said. “Winning races to the puck and beating them with our work ethic is Beaver hockey, and that is what it will take.”

Minnesota 5, Bemidji State 1

Minnesota 0 3 2 – 5

Bemidji State 0 0 1 – 1

First period – No scoring.

Second period – 1, Minn, Brandt 19 (Bozek 19, Kortum 11), 10:22; 2, Minn, Stecklein 3 (Kessel 27, Bozek 20), 12:03; 3, Minn, Lorence 5 (Kessel 28), 14:18.

Third Period – 4, Minn, Bozek 9 (Lorence 8, Kessel 29) 3:21; 5, Minn, Kortum 8 (Ramsey 8, Stecklein 4) 9:41. 6, BSU, Huber 2 (Kostenko 2), 16:32.

Shots – Minnesota 34, Bemidji State 27

Saves – Minnesota, Raty, 26; Bemidji State, Havel, 29

Penalties/minutes – Minnesota 7-14; Bemidji State 6-12