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WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Team Russia edges Bemidji State in OT, 5-4

Bemidji State's Kristine Grenier, center, maneuvers the puck between Russia's Alena Khomich (4) and Tatiana Shibanova (6) during their exhibition game Wednesday at the Sanford Center. Grenier scored and had an assist in BSU's 5-4 overtime loss.

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State women’s hockey team made it clear it wasn’t intimidated by the Russian National Team.

BSU’s Kristine Grenier scored 46 seconds into their exhibition game, and despite the fast, physical Russians taking a pair of two-goal leads in the third period, Kaitlyn Tougas’ goal with 1:39 left in regulation sent the game into overtime tied at 4-4.

Although Russia’s Ludmila Belyakova scored an overtime goal to lead Russia to a 5-4 win Wednesday night at the Sanford Center, the Beavers were pleased with their fight in the game against a team that will be playing in the Olympics in just a few short months.

“It was a fun game in that the atmosphere was different. It had an international flavor,” BSU head coach Steve Sertich said. “It’s a good experience for our players. If they don’t get a chance to play on a national team they don’t always get a chance to play against a team from overseas, so it was fun for them.”

Olga Sosina scored twice in the third period to give the Russians two separate two-goal leads, but the Beavers cut the lead to 4-3 to set up Tougas impressive goal on a near-breakaway to force overtime.

Emily McKnight picked up the puck in the neutral zone then made a pass off the glass to Tougas, who was skating at the blue line near the Russian bench.

Despite being mugged the whole way by Inna Dubanok, Tougas was able to flick it past Russian goaltender Yulia Leskina to tie it up.

“Luckily I still had some jam in me and I got it in,” Tougas said.

“It doesn’t always look like it but she’s incredibly fast,” Sertich said of the sophomore from Thunder Bay, Ontario. “She’s fast and has a powerful stride. Then to score that goal with that girl on her all the way down was impressive.”

Dubanok was penalized for the infraction but the Beavers couldn’t do anything with the power play.

However, BSU did score two of its three third-period goals Wednesday on the power play, with scores by Tess Dusik and Ivana Bilic negating Sosina’s two tallies.

The Russians had a 2-1 lead going into the third period thanks to goals from Alexandra Vafina and Oxana Afonina; they dominated play in the middle frame and outshot the Beavers 16-7.

“They definitely got faster as the game went on,” Tougas said of the Russians. “In period one they were a bit slow, two they were faster, three they were all over us. They used their bodies really well.”

Tougas and Sertich agreed that the Russians’ slow start may have been due to Grenier’s quick goal just 46 seconds into the game.

“You wonder sometimes if that first goal was too easy, too early,” Sertich said. “Maybe they were a little stunned by us. But the Russians got better as the game went on. They dominated large part of end of the first and into the second. We came back and played a little bit better in the third.”

Although the Russians dominated the second period and parts of the third, statistically the teams were basically even.

Russia outshot BSU 34-31 but was whistled for six penalties compared to BSU’s two. BSU went 2-for-6 on the power play despite missing Hanna Moher and Madison Hutchinson, who are vital members of BSU’s power play unit but who Sertich decided to rest for the night.

“That’s always a good sign,” Sertich said. “It’s never easy no matter who you’re playing. We scored a couple power play goals despite missing Moher and Hutchinson and the kids that jumped in did a good job.”

Havel, making her first start in net in a month, took the loss for BSU but made 29 saves. Havel missed the first month and a half with an injury.

“It was really good for her to get a full game in,” Sertich said. “It’s a tough recovery for a goalie, she had a pretty serious surgery. So it was good for her to get that in. I don’t think she’s 100 percent yet but it was really good for her to get game conditioning.”

Leskina made 27 saves for the Russians.

The Beavers will get a few days off for the holidays before coming back to prepare for the resumption of the conference season. BSU takes on Wisconsin in Madison in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series Dec. 6 and 8.

“We know the Badgers are going to be just as fast, maybe faster,” Tougas said of Wisconsin. “We know they are a little different skill-wise than the Russians but it’s a good tune-up for us.

“We’ll get a little bit of a break here and we’ll come back to get ready for a big series.”

Russia 5, Bemidji State 4, OT

RUS     0     2    2   1 -- 5

BSU     1     0    3   0 -- 4

First Period -- 1, BSU, Grenier (Dusik), 0:46. Penalties -- BSU, Williams (Holding), 8:08; RUS, Shibanova (Hooking), 10:22.

Second Period -- 2, RUS, Vafina (Dergacheva), 5:18; 3, RUS, Afonina (Unassisted), 15:01. Penalties -- RUS, Khomich (Boarding), 16:30; RUS, Dergacheva, (Boarding), 19:41.

Third Period -- 4, RUS, Sosina 1 (Unassisted), 1:34, SH; 5, BSU, Dusik (Grenier, Duellman), 4:58, PP; 6, RUS, Sosina 2 (Sements), 6:39; 7, BSU, Bilic (Unassisted), 8:43, PP; 8, BSU, Tougas (McKnight, Duellmann), 18:24. Penalties -- BSU, Ehlert (Interference), 1:57, RUS, Sements (Interference), 3:33; RUS, Dyubankok (Interference), 18:24.

Overtime -- 9, RUS, Belyakova (Vafina), 3:39. Penalties -- None.

Shots on goal: RUS – 12-16-4-2—34; BSU – 12-7-12-0—31; Goaltenders (shots-saves): RUS – Leskina (34-27); BSU — Havel (31-29). Penalties-Minutes: RUS – 6-12; BSU — 2-4. Power Play goals, opportunities: RUS – 0-for-2; BSU — 2-for-6. Three stars: 1-Grenier, BSU; 2-Tougas, BSU; 3-Duellman, BSU.

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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