BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State women’s hockey team has played plenty of elite foes this season.
The Beavers had to face another, No. 7 Minnesota Duluth, once again Saturday. They played even for a period, a vast improvement on a tough 9-0 loss to the Bulldogs on Friday.
But eventually, UMD pulled away on the strength of two second-period goals, including a power-play score to go up two, and maintained control for a 4-1 win.
“In the areas that we talked about, I thought we were better,” BSU head coach Jim Scanlan said. “Just our battle, our compete. We were making plays faster. Certainly liked how we responded in the first after they scored. We came back, scored a big power-play goal.
“But the bottom line is we lost the hockey game.”
The Beavers (2-8-2, 1-8-1 WCHA) scored their first goal of the weekend in the first period when Reece Hunt cashed in a puck in the crease off assists from Claire Vekich and Graysen Myers. That answered a goal by UMD’s McKenzie Hewett earlier in the period.
But BSU failed to score from there, despite Myers’ shot echoing off the pipe in the second period with the Beavers trailing.
Minnesota Duluth scored at 4:49 in the second on a Mannon McMahon shot, and Naomi Rogge added the backbreaker on the power play at 12:48. After that, it was tough for Bemidji State to threaten Bulldogs goaltender Emma Soderberg and a defense that could prioritize stopping the Beavers.
“When you're playing at home, points are so valuable,” Scanlan said. “You want to get points against whoever you're playing. And certainly Duluth's a very good team. I'm not taking anything away from them. But just because the score is closer, it doesn't make it any less painful.”
Saturday’s game ends a stretch of 10 straight games for BSU against teams in this week's USCHO top 10. The schedule has been a grueling grind, and it’s taken its toll on the Beavers’ stamina.
“We have a tough schedule,” Hunt said. “I mean, it's never an excuse playing against good teams like that. If anything, we're lucky we get to play against such great teams. But it is, it's exhausting. It can be mentally hard, physically hard.”
Scanlan said the Beavers will have to be careful moving forward that they don’t wear themselves out too much in practice.
“We want to make sure we're managing their ice (time) as best we can,” he said. “That's one part of our job. Week by week, we got to make sure we're monitoring that, and making sure we're not leaving their game legs behind because of how hard we're working during the week.”
The upcoming schedule will help somewhat. Bemidji State will have just its second nonconference series of the year against Lindenwood on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26-27, in Maryland Heights, Mo. The Lady Lions represent the Beavers’ first unranked opponent since Clarkson, which has since risen to a tie for No. 7 with UMD.
BSU won’t be overlooking its next opponent -- but the opportunity is there for the Beavers to get back on track.
“Taking advantage of games that aren't, say, in our conference, like coming up this weekend against Lindenwood, will be fun,” Hunt said.
Minnesota Duluth 4, Bemidji State 1
UMD 1 2 1 -- 4
BSU 1 0 0 -- 1
First period -- 1, UMD GOAL, Hewett (Van Wieren, Linser), 6:11; 2, BSU GOAL, Hunt (Vekich, Myers), 8:31, PP.
Second period -- 3, UMD GOAL, McMahon (Van Wieren, Linser), 4:49; 4, UMD GOAL, Rogge (Hughes, Jobst-Smith), 12:48, PP.
Third period -- 5, UMD GOAL, Anderson (unassisted), 18:28, EN.
Saves -- Hogenson (BSU) 35; Soderberg (UMD) 23.