Gophers will try to continue dominance of Beavers

Brian Deutsch

The Minnesota women’s hockey team returns to Western Collegiate Hockey Association play this weekend as the Gophers travel to Bemidji State.

The two teams meet for a two-game series beginning at 7:07 p.m. today. The second game is scheduled for Saturday at 2:07 p.m.

The series will be played at John S. Glas Fieldhouse, where Bemidji State is 3-4-2 this year – not a huge advantage for the Gophers as they have been uncommonly average on the road.

Minnesota is 2-2-1 on the road, while playing nearly perfect with an 8-1-0 record at Ridder Arena.

“I think in the last few weeks we’ve been playing a lot better,” junior forward Bobbi Ross said. “Hopefully we can just keep playing our game no matter what rink we are playing in.”

After coming off three straight sweeps against Minnesota-Duluth, Niagara and St. Cloud State, Minnesota will try to add to its current winning streak as the Gophers begin a four-game road swing.

The Beavers on the other hand are looking to build momentum for the second half of the season after breaking a six-game winless streak last weekend with a 3-0 win over Vermont.

“We saw them at the Easton Shootout and they have had some success since then,” coach Laura Halldorson said. “They have a good team and we just need to play our game.”

The teams’ statistics are nearly as opposite as their performances in the past month.

Minnesota (10-3-1 overall, 7-2-1 WCHA) is averaging 3.57 goals a game, while giving up 2.14 a game.

Bemidji State is allowing 3.5 goals a game while producing just 2.07 goals on average.

That difference in production reflects the gap between the two teams in the all-time series.

Since they began playing each other in 1999-2000, the Gophers have dominated the Beavers.

Minnesota owns a 26-1-3 record against Bemidji State with its first-ever win coming last season.

The Gophers took the first three meetings between the two teams last season but lost the final meeting 2-1.

“That game was really tough for us,” senior forward Becky Wacker said. “It was kind of a low point in our season.”

One reason the Beavers (4-8-2, 2-5-1) were able to pick up the win was the performance of goalie Emily Brookshaw.

“She’s been a very solid goaltender for them; every time we’ve played them she’s played well,” Wacker said. “If she’s on when we play them, we’re going to have to battle.”

As a sophomore last year, Brookshaw had a .904 save percentage while allowing 47 goals.

Brookshaw has already allowed more goals this season – 49 through 13 games – than all of last season. That’s not helping the Beavers improve upon last season’s 11-23-2 performance.

One way Bemidji State has tried to regain respectability was by bringing in a new coach, Steve Sertich.

“I really like Steve and I respect what he is doing up at Bemidji State,” Halldorson said. “I look forward to seeing him this weekend and seeing how his team comes out against us.”