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HOCKEY DAY MINNESOTA: WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers set for the great outdoors

BSU senior Emily Bergland (9) fights for puck possession against Minnesota Duluth on Jan. 11, 2019, at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI -- The sun will be shining down on the Bemidji State women’s hockey team Saturday afternoon, but don’t expect the weather to be too warm.

No roof will be required when the Beavers host Minnesota State on Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday. The nonconference contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start.

“It’s a unique experience,” said BSU head coach Jim Scanlan, “and I want my players to really embrace the uniqueness of it and really enjoy it.”

“I think growing up in Minnesota, it’s something you dream about as a little kid, whether you’re actually in a game or just skating outside on Hockey Day Minnesota,” said sophomore Lindsey Featherstone, who hails from Woodbury and played high school hockey at Hill-Murray. “I think that’s fun to be able to finally have that chance to play in a game.”

The day will be even more special for the seniors on the team.

“It’s fun to actually be able to get to (play in the event) because we’d always watch Hockey Day I remember in high school,” said Emily Bergland, a senior from Thief River Falls. “We’d all get together with the high school teams and watch this day. So now to be able to do it my last year is incredible.”

The forecasted high temperature for today is a brisk minus 4 degrees with a low around minus 17 and wind chill values as cold as minus 38.

“Once we start playing the game, I don’t think it’ll have that big of an impact,” Bergland said. “... I don’t think it’ll affect us too much.”

“I think it’s just one of those things going into it,” Featherstone added. “You know it’s going to be cold, and so you just have to embrace it and have fun with it and hope for the best.”

The teams will at least have the benefit of heated benches and penalty boxes.

Not that this is the Beavers’ first time playing an outdoor game, though no players remain on the roster from when BSU faced Wisconsin at the Badgers’ Camp Randall Stadium on Feb. 6, 2010.

The Beavers (8-14-1, 5-8-1-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) and Mavericks (8-10-4, 3-9-2-1 WCHA) are in a battle for the fourth and final home league playoff spot. Today’s contest is nonconference, but the teams will meet twice more in a league series next weekend in Mankato.

“It’s going to be a grind,” Scanlan said. “Again, this game doesn’t count for points, but it’s the first of three straight games against them, the next two being on the road and being conference.

“It’s going to be a little bit unique because it’s Hockey Day.”

Since league points will not be on the line, there won’t be as much pressure to win, though both teams will certainly want to come out victorious on Hockey Day.

“I’m going to try to play every single player that’s healthy,” Scanlan said. “With that backdrop, obviously you still want to win the hockey game. But I’m sure that our players will embrace it, yet still be very, very competitive when the time comes.”

“We’ve got to play our best game, too, because there’s a lot of people watching,” Bergland said. “I think we’re all just going to be really excited, and it’s going to be easy to stay into the game.”

If you go

Who: BSU vs. Minnesota State

What: Hockey Day Minnesota

Where: HDM outdoor rink

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Radio: Beaver Radio Network/1300 AM

TV: Fox Sports North

Austin Monteith

Austin Monteith is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is an Illinois native and a Butler University graduate. Follow him on Twitter @amonteith92.

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