WOMEN’S HOCKEY: Beavers host Gophers for home finale
BEMIDJI -- One point may not sound like much, but you’ll take what you can get if you’re in the middle of WCHA playoff race like where the Bemidji State women’s hockey team finds itself. Especially when that point comes on the road against the nation’s fifth-ranked team.
Kiki Radke netted the game-tying goal with 17 seconds remaining in regulation in an eventual 2-2 tie Saturday at Ohio State, though the Buckeyes took the extra standings point in a shootout, to help the Beavers rebound from a 7-2 loss the night before.
“We came back, we worked hard, we stuck to our game plan and getting a point off of them was obviously huge,” Radke said. “It seems kind of petty, but one point in this league against a highly ranked team is pretty good. I think we’re not content with it, but pleased with how we came back Saturday.”
BSU (14-13-3, 8-10-2-0 WCHA) returns to the Sanford Center for the final time this regular season for another clash against a ranked opponent as Minnesota comes to town. The Gophers (21-5-3, 13-5-2-1 WCHA) are ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and No. 4 in the USCHO.com rankings.
Minnesota had been slotted No. 2 in both polls up until a 2-0 defeat at home to No. 9 Minnesota Duluth in a series split last weekend. That result could provide Bemidji State with a glimpse of how to take down the Gophers, who swept the teams’ first meeting in November.
“We always feel confident that we can get points,” Radke said. “We always know going into every weekend that our goal is to get as many points as possible. It doesn’t change, no matter what the rank of the team is.”
Minnesota’s loss isn’t the result the Beavers were hoping to see, as it allowed UMD to take a three-point lead on BSU for fourth place and the final home-ice playoff spot.
With the Gophers trailing Wisconsin by four points for first place, both sides will be hungry this weekend.
“(They’re) kind of a wounded animal coming in here,” head coach Jim Scanlan said. “We’re going to get a team that’s motivated. They’re tremendously talented throughout their lineup.”
Seniors to be honored
The Beavers’ six seniors -- Abby Halluska, Briana Jorde, Jacqueline Kaasa, Haley Mack, Heather Olson and Radke -- will be honored during Senior Day festivities in Saturday’s regular-season home finale.
This year’s senior class carries special significance to Scanlan.
“They were really the first class that I had involvement with recruiting them,” the sixth-year coach said. “Some of the seniors from last year had already committed before I took the job. That’s kind of how far ahead recruiting has gotten. … You think back to when they were freshmen and now to see the young women they are now and to see how far they’ve come -- not just as hockey players, but as people -- and what they’ve done in the community and at school how well they’ve done, I’m just really proud of them. They’ve been a big part of some really, really special moments, some great memories and some big wins over their careers.”
The six seniors advanced to the WCHA Final Faceoff as sophomores and have pulled off upset wins over top-ranked Wisconsin teams in the last two seasons. They’ll hope to make more memories before their time in green and white is done.
“We’ve had some good times on the ice, some really good times off the ice and we’ve really come together like the sisters I never had,” Radke said. “I know that they’ll always be my best friends, no matter what happens from here on out.”
Following this weekend, Bemidji State will close out the regular season at St. Cloud State, Feb. 14-15. The WCHA Playoffs begin the weekend of Feb. 28.
If you go
Who: BSU vs. Minnesota
Where: Sanford Center
When: 6:07 p.m. Friday; 3:07 p.m. Saturday
Radio: Beaver Radio Network/1300 AM & 94.3 FM