Women’s hockey team skates past Beavers 7-0, 6-1 at home

Minnesota held Bemidji State scoreless for 119:23 over the weekend.

by Noah Seligman

The ice sheet at Ridder Arena is 200 feet by 85 feet, but Minnesota’s top-ranked women’s hockey team only made use of one end of the rink for most of its weekend series against Bemidji State.

The Gophers resided in the Beavers’ defensive zone and dominated possession en route to dismantling Bemidji State (2-13-1, 0-10-0) 7-0 Friday and 6-1 Saturday.

“They’re getting all five people involved in the offense,” Bemidji State coach Bruce Olson said. “They have defensemen breaking in from the pint, they cycle well out of the corner and they’re constantly moving. It seems like they have 10 people out on the ice.”

The Gophers’ speed again served them well against the slower Beavers and enabled Minnesota to pass its final exam of the first semester of play with flying colors.

Minnesota (13-0-1, 9-0-1) was able to dump the puck into the corners and use its speed to win possession.

“You just can’t stop speed,” Olson said. “They’re just too fast; you can’t slow them down.”

Minnesota established control in the Bemidji State zone early in both games.

Minnesota posted seven of its 13 goals on the weekend in the first period of play.

“Getting out to a big lead is definitely beneficial to our team,” Minnesota sophomore forward Natalie Darwitz said. “It’s a good positive for us.”

Bemidji State’s starting goaltender, sophomore Jill Luebke, lasted less than seven minutes into Saturday’s game before being replaced by senior Anik Cote.

The Gophers worked the puck low and pressured the Bemidji State defense Saturday.

Minnesota unleashed a barrage of shots on net in both games, firing 55 shots on goal Friday, and 44 in Saturday’s contest.

“We created a lot of offense,” Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson said. “When you get to the net you’re going to end up with a lot of shots in close.”

Minnesota’s power play was running at high efficiency as well. The Gophers converted on seven of 11 chances with the skater advantage.

Defensively, the Gophers clamped down and never let the Beavers develop any rhythm on offense. Minnesota held Bemidji State scoreless for 119:23 of action over the weekend before allowing a late goal Saturday.

The Minnesota defense was able to push the Beavers high in the zone to deny any real scoring chances.

“We always try and focus on having them shoot from outside the perimeter so they don’t have a really quality shot,” Gophers freshman defender Lyndsay Wall said.

Minnesota had nine players tally a point in each game. Darwitz and senior co-captain La Toya Clarke scored seven points on the weekend.

Darwitz notched her 100th career point as a Gopher with her first of four assists in Friday’s contest.

Mind the net

NCAA rules require every team to have two uniformed goaltenders ready to play for every game.

Minnesota backup goalie junior Brenda Reinen was unavailable last weekend because of an unspecified injury, creating a challenging situation for the Gophers.

Minnesota was forced to have junior forward Stacy Troumbly serve as the backup goalie Friday and senior forward Jerilyn Glenn partake in the duty Saturday.

Minnesota would have faced the possibility of having to forfeit the games had it not used position players as backup goalies.