Gophers falter in series with Bemidji State

Minnesota tied on Friday and lost on Saturday to the Beavers at home.

Grant Donald

Three of the Gophers’ top players didn’t play in Saturday’s game, and the team didn’t score in a 1-0 loss to Bemidji State — marking its fourth loss in the last 110 games.

The loss came a day after the team skated to a 2-2 tie and fell in a shootout to the Beavers, a team that was ranked last in the conference heading into the weekend.

Junior Hannah Brandt and sophomores Lee Stecklein and Dani Cameranesi didn’t play in Saturday’s loss because they had U.S. national team commitments in preparation for the upcoming Four Nations Cup.

“Those guys account for over 40 percent of our offense,” head coach Brad Frost said. “It has kind of unfortunately been the story of the first month here. We haven’t been getting a lot of secondary scoring.”

The Gophers had their chance to put the puck in the back of the net, as they outshot Bemidji State 36-19 on Saturday.

But the Beavers’ goalie, sophomore Brittni Mowat, put on a show over the weekend, making a combined 83 saves and limiting an explosive Gophers attack to just two goals.

“We gave ourselves a chance to tie it up, but their goaltender played fantastic, and they blocked a lot of shots,” Frost said. “They did what they need to do, so credit to them.”

As the third period progressed Saturday, it was evident that fatigue was setting in for the Gophers, who were playing with only three lines and no substitutes.

“We definitely had a short bench tonight,” senior forward Meghan Lorence said. “It was a good test for us, and I think we responded the best we could with who we had and the numbers we had.”

Friday’s game featured more scoring chances for both teams, as both goalies dealt with constant action in the front of their nets.

Freshman Kelly Pannek took the puck coast to coast to score her first collegiate goal, giving the Gophers a 1-0 lead in the second period.

“There is nothing quite like scoring a goal,” Pannek said. “You just feel like you are contributing and doing your job. It is always nice to get the first one off your shoulders.”

Bemidji State scored the next two goals to take the lead before Cameranesi deflected senior Rachel Ramsey’s shot to tie the game with 1:18 remaining in the third period.

The teams skated through a scoreless overtime before the Beavers edged the Gophers in the shootout 2-1.

“Unfortunately, we are better at losing shootouts than we are at winning them,” Frost said.

Senior captain Rachael Bona made it clear that the weekend’s results were nothing to get worked up over, and she is confident in her team’s ability to rebound the next time it plays.

“I think this is normal and this is what happens to normal teams,” Bona said. “We are still a great team. I mean, it’s only one loss.”