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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Bemidji State hosts Robert Morris in home opener

BEMIDJI — Brittini Mowat’s first collegiate series could have been more painful. She could have taken a loss.

Instead, the freshman from Glenboro, Manitoba, played through a broken fingertip to lead the Bemidji State hockey team to a season-opening victory against Lindenwood Friday, Sept. 27.

“Oh man, Brittini stepped up,” senior captain Alex Ehlert said of Mowat’s 18-save performance in BSU’s 3-2 win. Mowat made 27 saves Saturday to help BSU earn a 1-1 tie.

The Beavers return to the ice this weekend at the Sanford Center for their home opener against Robert Morris (today at 7:07 p.m., Saturday at 4:07 p.m.). Mowat will once again be backstopping the Beavers in goal.

“She played really well that weakened and made some really good saves,” Ehlert said. “A couple really big ones, too. We were really impressed with her. I think we’re all happy to have her on the team.”

Even more impressive for Mowat last week was the Beavers (1-1) nearly went from having two goaltenders to having none in the span of 24 hours.

Before the team left that Thursday for St. Louis, head coach head coach Steve Sertich got a distressing call from assistant coach Amber Fryklund the night before.

“We’re getting ready to leave Thursday and amber called me and told me that both our eligible goalies are in the emergency room,” Sertich said.

Senior Jessica Havel had stomach problems while Mowat had a broken fingertip.

Both goalies ended up traveling with the team to St. Louis. But Thursday Havel was once again hampered by stomach pains.

“We take her to the hospital and find out she had emergency surgery that night in St. Louis,” Sertich said.

Not only did that force Mowat into action in her very first collegiate game, it also left the Beavers without a backup — freshman Erin Deters is redshirting and didn’t make the trip to St. Louis.

Freshman defenseman Madison Hutchinson volunteered to suit up as goalie Friday, while freshman defender Carly Esse donned the gear Saturday.

Sertich said he expects Havel to be out another month so Mowat will be in goal for the forseeable future. But he was impressed with her composure against Lindenwood.

“I think (the injury) hurt her during the week more than anything,” he said. “But she did a really nice job. She was really calm for a freshman.

“Deters can be on the bench in case of emergency but we hope we don’t have to use up her year unless we have to. So Brittini will be it for now.”

RMU coming to Bemidji

This weekend’s series against Robert Morris will be the Beavers’ first games at home and their second straight against a College Hockey America team.

The Colonials (1-1) split with RPI last weekend, losing the opener 3-0 before taking the Saturday game 3-2.

“They have an outstanding top line and their first power play has been really good,” Sertich said. “They’ll be a tough team for us.”

The Colonials scored once on the power play last weekend — a goal by Thea Imbrogno — but after seeing film the Beavers know they’re going to have to be prepared to be strong on the penalty kill. All three of Lindenwood’s goals in BSU’s first series were scored on the power play.

“I think we still have a lot of things to work on,” Ehlert said. “It’s still early in the season. The penalty kill could definitely use some work. All three of those goals we gave up were power play goals, so we need to be better.”

Offensively the Beavers were able to find the net — which was a concern coming into the season.

Kaitlyn Tougas had a goal and an assist and Tess Dusik, Whitney Wivoda and Hanna Moher also added assists.

Kristine Grenier, a transfer from Mercyhurst, scored the game-tying goal in the first game against Lindenwood.

“I think we have potential to be pretty good up front,” Sertich said. “You forget a lot of our players are inexperienced as far as game experience goes. But I think we have potential to score.

“We just have to be patient.”

Cancer awareness

Saturday afternoon’s game against RMU will be designated the “Love for Lilah” game to help promote cancer awareness.

Members of the Bemidji State women’s hockey team pose with shirts they made for their “Love For Lilah” cancer awareness game

The team has rallied around Lilah Kelley, sophomore Jenessa Philipczyk’s 18-month-old niece.

Kelley has neuroblastomam, a rare form of cancer of the sympathetic nervous system.

Ehlert said the team usually does a cancer fundraising game each year. Philipczyk and her niece are close, so the Beavers decided Lilah’s condition would be the perfect cause for this year’s game.

“We thought it was a really good idea to have fundraiser like this, especially since we know them,” she said.

This weekend the team will use gold tape on their sticks and socks, and gold ribbon stickers will adorn their helmets in support of pediatric cancer.  In addition to raising awareness, the team will be selling bears with all proceeds directed to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

The team is also asking fans to wear gold or yellow to support the cancer awareness.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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