WOMEN'S HOCKEY: Bemidji State won’t let wins and losses define season
“You can’t look at wins and losses as being how you evaluate a season,” Bemidji State head coach Jim Scanlan said. “There’s so much more that goes into it.”
A look at the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings shows the Bemidji State women’s hockey team finished last in the league with a 2-16-2 record.
But those numbers aren’t going to define the 2020-21 season for the Beavers.
“You can’t look at wins and losses as being how you evaluate a season,” head coach Jim Scanlan said. “There’s so much more that goes into it.”
Even playing this season at all was a victory in many regards. The team’s first four games were postponed due to COVID-19 issues, first with St. Cloud State and then with BSU.
After that initial bump in the road, Bemidji State avoided any more postponements and played 20 games, tied for the most by any WCHA team.
“(Players’) lives were pretty much wherever they lived, and the rink. And that was about it,” Scanlan said. “They couldn’t see family after games. We just had to keep our bubble as tight as we could, and we were able to navigate that the entire rest of the season without any issues.”
Once the season got rolling, it was hard for the Beavers to avoid overtime. Nine of their games required an extra frame, including a streak of five in a row at one point.
BSU remained snakebit in most overtime games, going 2-5-2 in such contests. The two wins came against St. Cloud State and then-No. 6 Minnesota Duluth.
“Nine overtime games out of 20. That’s pretty remarkable,” Scanlan said. “That’s how close we were. It’s such a fine line between having success or not.”
Goals were hard to come by for Bemidji State, averaging only 1.2 per game.
Still, the team remained hard to play against on the defensive end where bumps and bruises were common.
The team led all NCAA Division I programs with 372 blocks, 62 more than the next closest school.
Senior blueliners Mak Langei and Tina Kampa ranked No. 2 and 4, respectively, in the country with 73 and 57 blocks each. Only Robert Morris defenseman Emily Curlett and her 76 blocks surpassed Langei’s output.
“It’s a real tribute to those players,” Scanlan said. “I think with any successful team, you’re certainly going to have players that are going to do that. We just had a group that would obviously do anything they could for each other. And that’s a big one, because it’s not easy to do. You might have equipment, but it still hurts.”
While the team may not have accomplished everything it wanted to on the ice this season, just being provided the chance to play is one they did not take for granted.
“I want to make sure I thank all those people for everything they did for us just to give us the opportunity to play,” said Scanlan referring to program administrators, trainers and staff. “I know with our players, everybody was extremely grateful that we got to play the 20 games we had to play.”
Saturday’s Senior Day ceremony, which followed a 4-1 loss to St. Cloud State at the Sanford Center, went differently than usual because of the pandemic.
Perhaps the strangest aspect was how some of the seniors who went through the ceremony will do it again next year. The NCAA has granted winter athletes an extra year of eligibility, should they choose to use it.
The Beavers have not yet announced who all from this year’s senior class will return, but Scanlan hopes to have the details finalized in the near future.
Lydia Passolt, Saturday’s goal scorer for BSU, has already made known her intentions for next year.
“I am coming back, which is exciting,” Passolt said after the game. “I’m going to grad school. But to look at the teammates that aren’t coming back it’s just very sad because there’s so many of us and so many memories with them that it’s going to be tough to come back and be with the people that are still here without having the other girls there with you.”