WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Bemidji State finishes off first half with trip to Wisconsin
BEMIDJI — It's been rare that the Bemidji State women's hockey team has had two healthy goaltenders at its disposal this season.
Senior Jess Havel had an emergency surgery before the team's season opener against Lindenwood in St. Louis.
That knocked her out of commission for a few weeks, forcing freshman Brittni Mowat to see every minute in the crease before Havel was cleared to play. Because fellow freshman Erin Deters is taking a redshirt this season, Mowat was it.
"It wasn't how I expected to start the season, that's for sure, Havel said. "To have that emergency surgery... it was the first injury in hockey I've had to deal with. But it's worked out."
Havel returned in time for the North Dakota series Nov. 1 and 2 but saw limited time — relieving Mowat in one game then starting the next before getting pulled midway through the game.
This weekend Havel finds herself back in action in a meaningful game for the first time since the UND series.
Mowat is out with mononucleosis so Havel gets the nod for this weekend's series against No. 2 Wisconsin in Madison. The Beavers and Badgers will face off at 2:07 p.m. today and Sunday.
Havel has only played 80 minutes — or four periods — of official game time but the senior from Grand Rapids started and played all 65 minutes in last weekend's exhibition game against the Russian National Team.
"It was nice to get back into the swing of things and get the full 60 minutes in," Havel said of that game, in which she made 29 saves in BSU's 5-4 overtime loss. "It felt good to be out there actually seeing pucks."
"It was good for her to get a full game in before we see the Badgers," BSU head coach Steve Sertich added. "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."
The good news for the Beavers (7-7-2, 4-5-1 WCHA) is that this trip to Wisconsin is the last one before the holiday break, which will give everyone some time to recover.
"We know we need points," Havel said. "We don't have anything after this, so I think we'll be ready. We can use all of our energy to get those six points this weekend."
The bad news? The No. 2-ranked Badgers (12-2-2, 8-2-2) are the stingiest team in the nation, having given up just 16 goals in 16 games so far. They have four shutouts, with goaltender Alex Rigsby notching three of them. She has a 1.03 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
The Beavers' offense has improved this season with major contributions from Hanna Moher, Kaitlyn Tougas and Tess Dusik, but they'll need to work extra-hard to score on the Badgers.
"They've had an amazing start if you just look at the number of goals they've allowed in our conference," Sertich said. "They're up there in everything. They're one of the top power play teams, one of the top penalty killing teams and have the top goalie in the league. They're a good hockey team and we're going to have to play our game to beat them."