Gophers continue home dominance

No. 2 Minnesota swept Bemidji State at Ridder Arena.

John Hageman

The No. 2 Minnesota womenâÄôs hockey team remains unbeaten at home this season after sweeping Bemidji State over the weekend. The Gophers won FridayâÄôs game 4-2 and finished SaturdayâÄôs on top 3-1. The Gophers now enjoy a six-point lead in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. With the sweep, Minnesota is now 11-2-1 overall and 9-2-1 in the WCHA. Bemidji State falls to 3-5-2 in the WCHA and 4-10-2 overall. On Friday, the two teams were deadlocked at 0-0 until early in the second period when senior Kelli Blankenship scored her fourth goal of the season. Sophomore Sarah Erickson scored her WCHA-leading 12th goal of the year at 15:55 in the second. Junior Terra Rasmussen then added another to give the Gophers the comfortable lead. Minnesota seemed to be in control, taking the 3-0 lead until the middle of the third period, when BemidjiâÄôs Erin Cody cut the lead to two. The Beavers slashed the lead to just one when Annie Bauerfeld scored her third goal of the year at 18:31 in the third. But MinnesotaâÄôs junior captain Emily West then scored an empty-net goal in the last minute to put the Beavers away 4-2 . âÄúThey made it interesting there in the last few minutes,âÄù Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said. It took more than a period for either team to score in a game that featured the top two goalies in save percentage in the WCHA. BemidjiâÄôs Zuzana Tomcikova had 34 saves in FridayâÄôs loss including 16 in the second period. âÄúShe made a lot of great saves in the beginning,âÄù Rasmussen said. âÄúWe just kept telling each other âÄòonce that first one goes in, theyâÄôll start rolling in.âÄô âÄù MinnesotaâÄôs freshman goalie Noora Räty came away with the victory, tallying 19 saves. In SaturdayâÄôs game, the Gophers came from behind after an early deficit to walk away with the sweep 3-1. Minnesota fell behind early when Bemidji StateâÄôs Emily Erickson scored at 3:03 in the first. It was only the third time all year the Gophers had not scored first. Minnesota erased the deficit with a goal from freshman Megan Bozek, the first of her career with the Gophers. âÄúIâÄôve been waiting for a goal,âÄù Bozek said. âÄúItâÄôs finally come, so IâÄôm pretty happy about it.âÄù The freshman had a part in every goal Saturday, adding assists in both of MinnesotaâÄôs goals later in the game . West added a power play goal in the second, and Rasmussen scored another goal late in the third to give the Gophers the victory 3-1. âÄúI thought we battled extremely hard,âÄù Frost said. âÄúNothing comes easy when you play Bemidji.âÄù The GophersâÄô penalty kill looked strong Saturday, limiting the Beavers to just three shots on seven power-play opportunities. Minnesota was the only team in the WCHA to sweep this weekend , as No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth and No. 6 Wisconsin lost. No. 7 Cornell also blew a two-goal lead in the final minute of their match against Quinnipiac on Saturday which led to a tie for the Big Red. âÄúA lot of the top teams âĦ people are just getting knocked off, and if we donâÄôt show up, weâÄôll be one of those teams too,âÄù Frost said. The Gophers will get a break from their WCHA schedule as they take on Clarkson next weekend at Ridder Arena.