After snapping a six-game losing streak, the Bemidji State women’s hockey team is starting to get back on the right track.
The Beavers rebounded from a 3-1 loss last Friday to tie St. Cloud State 2-2 on Saturday and earned the extra Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings point with a shootout victory.
“From a performance standpoint, it was probably our best overall weekend of the year,” head coach Jim Scanlan said. “We wanted to puck possess, and I thought we did that (on Friday). We wanted to get pucks to the net, and I thought we did that. We created chaos. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the puck passed (goalie Emma) Polusny any more than one time.”
BSU rallied from a two-goal deficit Saturday with a pair of second-period goals by Clair DeGeorge and Taylor Nelson, the latter scoring her first collegiate goal. Mya Neugent effectively deceived the opposing netminder and backhanded the lone goal in the shootout for a 1-0 win after two rounds.
“I was definitely nervous,” said Neugent, a sophomore forward. “Our coach (Emma Terres) actually helped me pick out a move and she just said to visualize it. … When I saw it go in the net I almost fainted, but it was exciting.”
“I thought they kept battling and fighting and had each other’s backs,” Scanlan said. “That was the big thing. … Overall, you want to win games, but again it’s the performance. You like to see steps taken every weekend and I thought we definitely did that this past weekend at St. Cloud.”
The Beavers (1-7-2) are still searching for their first win in eight games with No. 6 Minnesota Duluth standing in their way this weekend at the Sanford Center. The series begins at 7:37 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, with the finale set for 4:07 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23.
The Bulldogs (5-3-0) are coming off of a home split with No. 3 Ohio State last weekend, winning the first game 2-0 before dropping a 1-0 decision Saturday. Junior Emma Söderberg leads the league in goals against average (1.19) and save percentage (.958), and earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week for her performance.
“They’ve had a strong goalie,” Neugent said. “It’ll be a good challenge going against them here on our home ice.”
The northern Minnesota rivals faced off eight times last season, including for the third straight year in the WCHA playoffs, but are set to meet for just this one series in 2020-21. The teams share an open weekend Feb. 5-6 and could potentially meet again at that time, but as of now, this weekend’s series will be the only regular-season matchup between the rivals.
“I think our group enjoys playing against them,” Scanlan said. “It’s been a rivalry. When you play as often as we have over the last three or four years, that’s going to naturally develop.”
At about the halfway point in this shortened season, Bemidji State still has ground to make up to rise out of the bottom of the WCHA standings. The team faces a tall task against UMD, but they’re up for the challenge.
“The girls feel good about themselves. They’re excited for the weekend,” Scanlan said. “If we can continue to battle like we’re battling and play for each other, then we’re always going to have a chance.”
At a glance
Who: BSU vs. Minnesota Duluth
Where: Sanford Center
When: 7:37 p.m. Friday; 4:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/1300 AM & 94.3 FM
Web stream: FloHockey.tv